Photo: Kim Kadlec / Twitter
Johnson & Johnson worldwide vp/marketing Kim Kadlec just fired one of her ad agencies, Deutsch — and then unnecessarily humiliated the shop in public.She lauded Deutsch’s work on stage at the massive Association of National Advertisers conference in Orlando yesterday and got applause from the audience for doing so.
Then, according to Ad Age, two hours later she called Deutsch (and Mother and The Martin Agency) to fire them from the very same accounts she had just praised.
We understand that business isn’t personal, but this borders on cruelty.
At the very least, it lacked respect. Ad agencies live and die by these decisions, and although Deutsch will do just fine without the O.B. tampons business in Canada, Kadlec seems to have coupled Deutsch’s pink slip with an unnecessary slap in the face.
Last month, we visited Deutsch CEO Linda Sawyer and Val DiFebo, CEO of Deutsch New York, and asked them how the review was going. Sawyer told us she didn’t believe the review — a competitive bidding process that involves pitching ideas for a collection of different brands with a $2.5 billion budget — was formally under way.
In hindsight, that report was wrong. The review was obviously near to completion, and Deutsch was already out of the running.
Perhaps it was all an unfortunate miscommunication. J&J did not immediately respond for comment. (We’ll update this post if Kadlec gets back to us.) Deutsch, understandably, hasn’t returned our email either.
The upshot is that Kadlec left Deutsch twisting in the wind. Then she gave the agency a public pat on the head in front of all of its peers, rivals and potential new clients.
And then — with the applause still ringing in her ears — she took Deutsch out to the woodshed.
Not cool, Kadlec.
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