There’s a lot of laundry airing on washing lines these days, not all of it clean. Very public fallouts between top brass and management are becoming almost as routine as washing day in media and advertising circles. Why go quietly into the night when justice can be pursued in media or legal courts? When a top executive at Bag Films and Media Ltd quit the company recently, someone who seemed to be acting on his behalf sent out a note to press—with the executive’s mobile number below. It explained that the reasons for his exit were “irreconcilable differences with the promoters in the way that the channels under his stewardship were to be programmed, positioned and promoted”.
Meanwhile, the drama at INX Media Pvt. Ltd continues, with the focus now shifting to the manner in which the management allegedly terminated the services of some of its editorial staff. INX later issued an explanatory media statement with certain charges made against Avirook Sen, former executive editor of the firm’s due-to-be-launched news channel NewsX. Sen is now taking INX to court, and the information and broadcasting ministry is scrutinizing these complaints. This may not be the best pre-launch scenario for a product operating in a keenly competitive environment, though some may argue that any publicity is better than none.
Advertising has had its own share of public spats. Lintas India Pvt. Ltd chairman Prem Mehta and creative chief R. Balakrishnan (Balki)—who is now chairman of Lowe India—fell out over certain issues related to how gains from the sale of the company’s shares were to be apportioned.
Public fallouts can hurt a company’s business or image. Employee morale and, hence, retention could be a casualty and a high price to pay in these days of scarce talent. If the fighting gets ugly or protracted, investors, clients or advertisers could also depart. Transparency is the key. When St Lukes’ entire creative team left the agency, they informed the press that they had done so in a letter. The agency, however, managed to retain its accounts by keeping clients such as Bombay Dyeing in the loop on how they were managing the situation.
Does the aggrieved employee’s image or career get dented in this ruckus? Well, a lot hinges on the brand equity of the company and the dramatis personae involved. For example, Lintas has lost no mega business since the fallout and Balki has gone on to a bigger post within Lowe since. Had he left the agency at the time, though, the impact may have been brutal.
Marion Arathoon is Mint’s advertising editor.
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