Conventional wisdom suggests we ignore what’s written in the tabloids. So, I’m not going to…

January 19, 2011


He didn’t respond so it must be true!

I still haven’t read the comments on Agency Spy’s “story” about me leaving my job at Euro RSCG Chicago. But then a visitor to my own blog (by the name JT) had to go and sum them up for me! Thanks JT. I guess. His full assessment is posted in the comments of my last post. Look, I believe JT was trying to do the right thing. He seems to have put a lot of effort into his “two cents.” While I was not planning on rebuttal, here are my responses to the three primary criticisms levied at me –chronicled on Agency spy and summed up by JT:

1. “Steffan- you’re always pimping Altoids.” The last time I wrote or spoke about Altoids was last year, in a speech for the Outdoor Association of Puerto Rico in San Juan. It wasn’t the primary focus of the material but they had asked me to work it in. Other than that, I don’t recall any recent communications I’ve done regarding Altoids. Tell you what. Search my blog or twitter feed. If you find something vainglorious promoting Altoids send me the link and I’ll publish it with my humblest apologies. Here’s a promise: If everyone else stops talking about Altoids and me the conversation dies. Your call everyone else.

2. “Steffan- you’re always promoting your books and blogs.” I link my blogs to my facebook and Twitter account. Doesn’t everyone? If not, why not? It’s called connectivity. When I write a post it sends the link to both. In addition, within 48 hours of creating new material on my blog I’ll probably tweet it 2 or 3 times, so as to share the link with friends and followers. My favorite bloggers do the same. I try to write three new posts a week. Do the math. Seems like normal behavior to me. Otherwise, I tweet about the same silly shit you do: “Bears suck!” “Go Bears!” BTW, one of my blogs, The Rogue's Gallery is a showcase for OTHER people. Not me. The other blog, Sweet by Design gives away my latest book coupled with a contest to design its eventual paper cover and win an iPad. In none of my blogs do I make any money or try to.

3. “Steffan- you criticize other people’s work but what have you done.” Here I might be culpable. Though I mostly write about tendencies in modern marketing from time to time I do select certain campaigns and talk about them. I believe praising Allstate’s “Mayhem” campaign is the most recent example. (Full disclosure: I am working on a story about another campaign, which I will share soon.) As for personal accomplishments (or lack thereof), I stand behind what’s on our website. I also think our campaign for Valspar paint was some of the best work I’ve ever had a hand in. Still, one of the things I’m most proud of from my last job was helping to build a good, decent agency from some pretty damaged material. We became viable and competitive, a real team. That we survived the crippling recession with minimal job losses is pleasant proof we did something right. Alas, I cannot put that in my “portfolio.” It was a mortgage on my creative reputation that I was willing to make. I’d do it again.

As I’ve already acknowledged, being part of the so-called “conversation” sometimes means getting your ass handed to you. Of course I get upset at the shit people say about each other and me. But I try not to contribute to any death spirals and I most certainly do not comment anonymously. In the end, I’m forever learning, just like everyone else! So, thank you JT and anyone else who cares to read and write on my behalf. Even the haters. It’s an honor.

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3 Responses to “Conventional wisdom suggests we ignore what’s written in the tabloids. So, I’m not going to…”

  1. Ashley said

    I’m glad you wrote a refute. The guy claiming you critique the work of others clearly had no problem doing the same of you. One of the main reasons social media still exists is self promotion, for brands and individuals. Anyone who doesn’t see that should probably log off, permanently. (In an effort to leave no stone unturned: Altoids was a groundbreaking campaign of its time, I don’t see the issue in mentioning it at will, in fact I’m surprised you don’t.)
    Good luck Steffan! Can’t wait for the publication of “Sweet by Design.”

  2. Steffan,

    I’ve been following the events of the last week, quietly observing the brouhaha, and a couple of things have become clear to me.

    The first is the simple observation that the higher up on the agency food chain we are, the more people there are below to bite you in the ass. It’s the only part of our anatomy they can reach.

    You’re doing well to not let them reach any higher and get to your head.

    The second has been covered by others in various ways, which is that it’s all too easy to tear down than it is to build up. Just watch any four year-old with blocks. Which, by the way, also happens to be the age that most of your detractors are acting like.

    And lastly, at the risk of getting preachy, this industry we have chosen is hard enough to succeed in without the political horseshit, backbiting and pettiness that we so easily bestow on each other.

    The fact remains that real talent usually rises to the top, particularly in the creative department, where you’re only as good as your last project.

    There is simply no place to hide in any ad agency creative department.

    The fact that you remained at your last shop for six years, which should be multiplied like dog years in this business, testifies to this on its own.

    I’ll leave with this. As people, and as advertising professionals, we would all be better off to apply this bit of timeless sagacity, “So in everything you do, do to others what you would have them do to you.”

  3. Tracy said

    Bah! If I had worked on Altoids, I wouldn’t just talk about it every damn day, I’d get a tattoo.

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