Many thanks to "Watching the waters flow" for posting this column by Lewis Lazare in today's Chicago Sun Times... As WTWF says... "this is suitable for framing... It is fucking brutal and makes my stuff look like it was written by a pussy cat... Enjoy...
Wal-Mart mess typifies ad world woes
December 7, 2006
BY LEWIS LAZARE Sun-Times Columnist
There's plenty about the Julie Roehm mess at Wal-Mart to sicken observers of the marketing and advertising world. But the most repugnant and telling aspect of it all has to be Roehm's brazen attempt Tuesday to cavalierly explain away her abrupt departure from Wal-Mart.
In a prepared statement issued to the media from her bunker hideaway, Roehm had the audacity to suggest that, of course, it was time for her to exit Wal-Mart in the middle of the night because her job as an agent of change at the retailing behemoth was completed -- an assertion, mind you, no one at Wal-Mart was in a hurry to second. And yes indeed, Roehm said she now was ready to tackle her next challenge.
If nothing else, Roehm's preposterously dumb statement made crystal clear exactly how much of a marketing charlatan this woman must be at her core. Could she honestly have expected anyone to fall for such a pompously idiotic effort to justify an inexplicable and ugly situation -- one whose full impact has yet to be revealed?
But what did Roehm accomplish in a brief 10 months on the job as Wal-Mart's senior vice president of marketing communication? Nothing less than destroying just about everything she touched in what had been a fairly well-defined and successful corporate culture, including relationships with two ad agencies -- Bernstein-Rein and GSD&M -- that worked for decades to help build Wal-Mart into the dominant brand it is today.
In the wake of Tuesday's stunning revelation that Roehm was out the door at Wal-Mart, plenty of people, including us, wondered what qualified this woman to hold one of the most powerful marketing positions in America. And no one we've talked to who worked with her at Wal-Mart or knew of her previous career could tell us with any conviction that she had the credentials to wreak havoc on Wal-Mart's marketing department.
Sadly, Roehm might be the most glaring example in recent memory of a particularly repellent type of executive that has infested the advertising and marketing world on both the client and agency sides. She is a creepy version of a particularly crafty scam artist who sails onward and upward on wave after wave of ill-deserved hype, while using some savvy political skills to sell themselves to others who are perhaps even more clueless.
There are plenty of things that are wrong with the advertising industry. Roehm was one of them. She might be gone for now, but the many more like her who are in positions of great power and influence in this business will only ensure things grow much worse before there is any hope of a brighter future.
Julies new office!