Mark Wnek on Advertising

US advertising industry finds its very own Martha Stewart

While US advertising industry buzzes over Shonagate - the conviction of Ogilvy NY account director Shona Seifert for falsifying timesheets (the forms where hours worked on a particular account are noted so they may be billed to clients) on the Drug-Free America (DFA) account, the poignant story is that of Shona's husband John.

While US advertising industry buzzes over Shonagate - the conviction of Ogilvy NY account director Shona Seifert for falsifying timesheets (the forms where hours worked on a particular account are noted so they may be billed to clients) on the Drug-Free America (DFA) account, the poignant story is that of Shona's husband John.

John is still an employee of Ogilvy NY, going to work every day among people who may have appeared as prosecution witnesses against his wife.

While I'm not familiar with the precise details of the crime, and while I haven't seen her for 20 years when we were both juniors at ad agency Ogilvy London (also there was JWT London CEO Simon Boulton and BBDO Worldwide chief Andrew Robertson), I feel a bit sorry for Shona, a small, bubbly and charming woman whose transition to jailbird-to-be is hard to get your brain around.

As account director in charge of the DFA account, Shona was "rumbled" years ago when a snap audit of some kind turned up Tippex-spattered timesheets. While the case was being brought, Shona left Ogilvy and became president of TBWA New York - a role now subsumed under TBWA group president Brett Gosper, my old business partner at Euro RSCG.

Falsifying timesheets is a famous crime: it's what helps Tom Cruise to bring down the firm in the movie of the same name. The fact that DFA is a governmental body seems to have sealed Seifert's immediate future as US adland's very own Martha Stewart.

Meanwhile, the industry crosses its fingers that Shonagate is the whole iceberg and not just the tip.

Like all Blue boys I've always hated Arsenal, but had more than a sneaking admiration for their alchemist in charge, Arsène Wenger.

Now he's blotted his copybook by casting a slur on willowy Southampton striker, our very own Peter Crouch. When I say our very own, what I mean is that Peter is the son of Bruce, creative director of ad agency Soul. Which makes Peter this football-crazy industry's only connection with the beautiful game at the highest level.

When Crouch scored in the recent clash between Gooners and Saints, Wenger called the six-foot seven-inch lad "a basketball player who can head a bit".

Anyone who has ever watched the boy Crouch cannot help but notice what a handful he is because of his height. But Wenger's tetchiness at the Saints' stalwart performance against his embattled side has rendered him less than fair on the subject of Peter Crouch's feet, which are so cultured they probably speak Latin. Something that was there for all to see last Tuesday night as Crouch scored two and made the third in Southampton's comfortable despatching of Brentford in their FA Cup replay. Arsenal are also still in the FA Cup. Let's hope they meet Southampton and Big Pete slots a curling 30-yarder past one of Arsène's useless keepers..

I saw Michael Winner in a restaurant the other week and he was tanned so black and his hair was so white that he looked like a pint of Guinness. Was this the result of a prolonged stay at Sandy Lane, or were we witnessing the birth of a completely new phenomenon: celebrities putting themselves up for advertising casting? To be fair, Mr. Winner would be an improvement on Rutger Hauer whom I employed many years ago in a Guinness campaign. I wouldn't say Hauer was wooden, but there was rumour going around that he was appearing by permission of the Royal Forestry Commission.

In my favourite spot of the series, Hauer had to sit next to a big aquarium observation window with his pint of Guinness. When a dolphin swam up, pressing its nose against the glass to take a look at him - as we were assured they would do - Hauer had to take a swig of Guinness and deliver the line, "It's not easy being a dolphin."

Needless to say, the dolphins proved recalcitrant and take after take after failed take took us well into the afternoon with everyone getting very hot under the collar. Then suddenly, the perfect moment: camera is rolling as the dolphin swims up directly level with Rutger's pint, tapping away at the window like an account director at five minutes to opening time. Hauer takes a sip, turns to camera and says, "Ah, sushi." We had to rugby-tackle the director to stop a chinning. And before you write in to say the sushi line was better than mine, remember this was 20 years ago and Rutger was probably one of three people outside Japan who had even heard of sushi.

Door keeps revolving at BMG

Only a few months since the top creative director (and top man) Logan Wilmont left the New York agency Kirshenbaum Bond to become a partner at Boymeetsgirl (BMG) in London's Clerkenwell, the chirpy Ulsterman has walked out. BMG is the latest vehicle of the former St Luke's leader, Andy Law. Law "lost" his original partners, the husband and wife David Pemsel and Kate Stanners, after only a short time together at the end of last year. Stanners was, unsurprisingly, snapped up by Saatchi & Saatchi to be its creative chief. Pemsel is also not short of an offer or two.

It's a testimony to Law's "powers" that the above "mishaps" didn't put off Wilmont. Shame, because not only has he walked but he's left behind the tidy sum he had invested in the business. When I talked to him last week, despite the fact that he was seething, the gentlemanly Wilmont would only allege that he had been shocked to find that BMG's financials weren't quite what he had expected. One wonders how long it will be before another BMG partner, the planner Chris Chalk, also makes like a tree. Law was unavailable for comment.

Law, then at Chiat Day, was punted up to me as a possible business partner at Euro RSCG over a decade ago. Soft-spoken and spiritual, I feared he may not survive the roughhouse of London adland. Soon after he was not surviving but thriving, having founded St Luke's.

Law is, by all accounts, brilliant among top-level thinkers and policy-makers, but less so among the nuts and bolts. BMG's survival may depend upon his remembering that "great ideas need landing gear as well as wings".


While I don't entirely agree that patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel, I do think it should be the last refuge of a copywriter: Anything with "Britain's best", or "The nation's favourite" immediately begs the riposte, "Says who?". Arbitrarily claiming national supremacy is the behaviour of drunken soccer fans, not serious brands. And, funnily enough, the new spot for HP Sauce - endline, 'Britain's favourite sauce' or something like that - has charming vignettes such as a punch-up at a wedding; HP obviously regards drunken yobs as its target market. The spot features a series of rather grimly-shot such events, and claims at the end of each that HP Sauce "sponsors" these kinds of goings-on. It leaves a nasty taste, unlike the marvellous sauce.

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