Feb 5, 2007

Team Roehm!

Big, big, big score for Team Roehm today.

New York's story on her, called "Snakes In The Garden" does just what a lot of people (okay, me) were saying it would: it paints Wal-Mart as the evil Spawn of Satan, and Julie Roehm, Sean Womack and Howard Draft as its undeserving victims.

Featured prominently are Wal-Marts financial missteps, their evil legal machinations, their pathological cheapness. Boo-yah.

Some choice snippets:

People in Bentonville also found plenty of sex in Julie’s personal presentation—the hair, the legs, the big blue eyes—though, for all the talk about what later went wrong, she seemed wholesome by New York standards, Rachael Ray as a midwestern business executive.
Sean looks straight out of a J.Crew catalogue: navy blazer, wrinkled white shirt, plus a handsome angular face and wedge of thick dark hair. He’s 37, though he looks younger, something that hasn’t gone unnoticed.
(T)he designated associate, as employees are called, probably a young, well-scrubbed fellow in short white sleeves. And this fellow would beat him up on prices just as he did every vendor. (“Don’t ever feel sorry for a vendor” is one Wal-Mart pearl.) He’d do that in one of about 40 compact gray meeting rooms on the wall of which was a stern warning: ASSOCIATES … DO NOT ACCEPT FOR THEIR PERSONAL BENEFIT GRATUITIES, TIPS, CASH, SAMPLES, ETC. You couldn’t accept a cup of coffee.
Julie and Sean liked Howard’s agency for another reason. They understood something about him. “He had more at stake than the others,” said Sean. “He’s up from direct marketing, and he’s got to prove himself,” said Julie. “He was not going to let this thing fail.” In October 2006, Howard won nine of ten votes from Wal-Mart’s decision-making committee. He celebrated with the mayor of Chicago, his hometown. And immediately made plans to hire 200 new people. Advertising Age let it be known that DraftFCB would be its agency of the year, which was probably Howard’s last bit of good news.
They landed in Bentonville at about 6:30 in the evening. Fleming and Castro-Wright were waiting. Sean was led down a long corridor to a tiny office. The head of security and a guy from legal were waiting for him. Julie went to a separate room. “The head of security flips his legal pad open and starts a 45-minute interrogation,” said Sean, which, even then, nervous as he was, he thought ridiculous.
Castro-Wright wanted some explanations. The Wal-Mart president made it clear that his concern wasn’t Howard’s ability to do the job. According to people who heard accounts of the meeting, he focused on Howard the person. He mentioned a BusinessWeek article that trotted out Howard’s playboy habits, his showy tastes.
And the real "Wal-Mart Is The AntiChrist" quote:
The legal action seemed to enrage the tight-lipped company. Wal-Mart appeared eager to shut Julie down. An attorney for Wal-Mart spoke to Sean’s wife, Shelley, and tried to enlist her help, according to a person who heard an account of the conversation. The attorney suggested that Wal-Mart hadn’t yet decided whether to pay Sean his bonus. Something under $200,000 was on the line. The Wal-Mart official, seemingly to reassure her of his trustworthiness, mentioned that he attended the same church as Shelley. Did she have any evidence that could be used? They weren’t after Sean but Julie. On Wednesday morning, Shelley—she and Sean are separated—provided company officials with a personal e-mail between Sean and Julie. (A Wal-Mart spokesman confirmed that a conversation took place, but added that “we wouldn’t discuss conversations between a lawyer and a potential witness in a pending lawsuit.”)


HighJive said...

Well, I sat down and read the entire New York piece. Thanks for inspiring me to throw away 20 minutes of my life that I’ll never get back.

Wanted to comment here, as Parker’s blog took a wild — albeit hilarious — digression.

It’s always interesting how people can view the same item and draw completely different responses. Like the jury who witnessed the classic Rodney King video and failed to see a crime.

Anyway, the piece does not paint a positive portrait of Roehm, Womack and Draft. In fact, they come off very poorly. Roehm and Womack appear immature on a host of levels. The way they finished each other’s sentences is pretty scary. Roehm claims they’re like brother and sister. It conjures up images of the sibling relationship between Angelina Jolie and her brother. Creepy. They also appear to be trying the lawsuit in the press, presenting “facts” that should remain confidential outside of a courtroom. Roehm’s attorney is probably not too thrilled with her big mouth.

Draft needs to consider suing the journalist for smearing his character. The Lord of Direct looks like a paranoid weenie in the throes of a delayed midlife crisis. I mean, shit, he showed Roehm and Womack a naked pic of his trophy girlfriend. Wonder what they showed him in return. Any potential or current client reading the article is gonna have a tough time taking Draft seriously. Or maybe they all enjoy seeing naked pics of his trophy girlfriend. Does Draft spend clients’ money like his own?

Roehm’s and Womack’s reasons for choosing Draft were pathetic. And Draft’s “admission” that he didn’t approve or approve of the Cannes print ad says a lot. Mostly bad. If it was such a big deal, why has no one been forced to face the music over its production?

Roehm and Womack appear to be spoiled brats. And their accomplishments do not support their reputations. Their greatest advertising may be the hype they’ve generated for themselves.

As mentioned before, the entire scenario truly taints the business.

Alan Wolk said...

HJ: Yes. Kind of.

Sean & Julie did come off as immature and giggly. But the authors point (one of them, anyway) was can you believe what morons Wal-Mart were to entrust the empire's marketing to these two goofy amateurs. And Wal-Mart kicking them so hard and mean comes off like a grumpy old man kicking two puppies.

As for Draft, well, if it were a movie, you'd say his character was cliché - the gruff self-made guy with insecurities, model girlfriends, fancy cars, modern art and an ex-wife he's still in love with. Danny DeVito plays him in comedies, Ron Silver in dramas, Donny Deutsch in real life.

So long as Draft keeps telling clients that their bottom line is what's important to him, he'll keep getting clients.

And yeah, it confirms the worst things everybody believes about the ad business and the people who work in it.

PS: Thanks for replying on here.