A cringeworthy transcript of an intenral Ogilvy discussion about when you don’t want to work for a client. Comparing oil spills with the current running by US CBP of concentration camps. In other words “it’s good money”.
Employee: So I think what I heard [from statements earlier in the transcript] is that we’re willing to work with companies that have oil spills. We’re willing to work with companies that sell big tobacco. We’re willing to work with companies that contribute to obesity rates and I guess, what I’m mostly hearing is that we’re willing to work with companies that are allowing children to die and that are running concentration camps.
Employee: So I don’t know, so we’ll work with anyone then, is what I’m hearing, and I feel like, I don’t understand for me, and I don’t understand why we can’t pivot.
Seifert [Ogilvy’s CEO]: Let me just see if I can help you understand drawing a line — auto companies allow people to die every single year.
Employee: But they’re [CBP] responsible. It’s on their watch that seven children have died in the last year. They are purposefully not given them what they needed in terms of care.
Seifert: I understand but there are mechanisms for addressing that lack of performance that are beyond both the work we do for that client and frankly the accountability that we have for that client in terms of what they have come to Ogilvy for.
Ok, children dying is ‘lack of performance‘. Got it.
Employee: Just one point. I was watching one of the Sunday public affairs shows this weekend and one of the Democratic representatives who was down at the border was talking about expressing both the experience of hearing what some of the CBP officers were doing wrong, which we read about in some of the big stories in the past couple of days which is reprehensible, but she also talked about two officers who pulled her aside and said “please don’t let this continue” and those were CBP officers.
Seifert: So what I’m saying though is, I wouldn’t be here for five minutes if I wasn’t prepared to stand up and be an advocate for the good of Ogilvy and where Ogilvy needs to be better. …. Because we should have people in this company who believe in its values who are willing to stand up and represent those values. And argue for them.
Employee: I’m not sure what those values are.
Time for Seifert and Ogilvy staff to read up on Hannah Arendt, particularly concerning the banality of evil.
I find it particularly shocking that Ogilvy’s CEO Seifert at the start says
[if we would say] “you know what, we’re not going to work for you because you’re not meeting our standards,” then we will have a very small business and we won’t really have a place in the industry with that pure view of a black and white view.
I know very successful companies who do exactly that as part of their values. Who exclude individual organisations as potential client, and upfront have excluded entire sectors because of a mismatch in values. It’s in direct contradiction as well with his earlier statement about believing in Ogilvy’s values, as here he says revenue is all that counts.
It’s also something his employees clearly see through, as per some of the above.