Sometimes The Ad Industry Gets An “F” In Decorum

After this week’s Ad Age article on GM CMO’s Joel Ewanick and his grading of Goodby, I started wondering about how everything in advertising seems to be pubic knowledge — and how we love to air our dirty laundry. Is it appropriate?

I know that if I were the management at Goodby, I’d be pissed to read that in a leading industry trade publication. If I were a copywriter on that business and saw that assessment of my work, I’d think back to every client suggestion or tweak, no matter how small, that in my opinion would have made an “A” idea or execution a “B” or a “C.” And I’d be resentful. So it certainly doesn’t appear to be indicative of a healthy agency/client relationship.

It’s the subject of my new column on, on the home page today.

About Dan Goldgeier

Blogging on AdPulp since 2005, Dan Goldgeier is a Seattle-based freelance copywriter with experience at advertising agencies across the U.S. He is a graduate of the Creative Circus ad school, and currently teaches at Seattle's School of Visual Concepts. In addition, he is a regular columnist for Dan published the best of his columns in a book entitled View From The Cheap Seats: A Broader Look at Advertising, Marketing, Branding, Global Politics, Office Politics, Sexual Politics, and Getting Drunk During a Job Interview. Look for it on Amazon in paperback and e-book editions.


  1. There are always two sides to these kind of coins. I’d like to see how Goodby grades GM, for instance. Ultimately, it’s the client’s work, for they commission it, approve it and pay for it.

  2. A+ Commenter says:

    Had a slightly different response than you did, Danny. Ewanick was in a weird political position. If he said the work deserves an A, he’d be open to questions like, “So how come you’re still getting your ass kicked by Toyota, Nissan and Ford?” If he had graded them with a D or F, the question would be, “Why not fire Goodby?” The grades he gave are the safe route out – probably the only way to go. It says you’re focused on doing better, and you’re not failing. The guy is a politician. Besides, in the end, the only grade that will matter will be given by the GM accountants, in regards to sales and revenue. 

    • Dan Goldgeier says:

      I hear ya. I just think it’s very weird for him to publicly issue grades in the first place, or admitting in Ad Age that he’s not getting consistency. He certainly doesn’t have to be Goodby’s cheerleader, but I don’t see a benefit to him saying it in Ad Age. It’s just another idiosyncrasy of this business that things work that way.

      • A+ Commenter says:

        My personal opinion – Ewanick loves the sound of his own voice. He certainly takes a lot of interviews. Remember, he pretty much handed the account to Goodby sans review, so in the end, it’s his ass on the line. He should follow the lead of the people at Ford. Shut the fuck up and build a better car. 

        • A+ Commenter says:

          A few more comments.

          The Gap’s CEO just went public, saying ads for Old Navy especially were ineffective. So maybe there is a trend for public spankings.

 a semi-related angle, when clients take heat for bad advertising – like the recent NIVEA scenario – ad agencies are traditionally conspicuously quiet. That sort of absence likely fuels a reduced sense of partnership between agency and client.