Monday, November 5, 2007

Same lawsuit, totally different interpretations

It's not that often that you see such divergent write-ups of the same basic story. But that's exactly what happened with Ad Age's and Adweek's accountings of Biegel vs. Dentsu this week. In case you've been living in a cave, Steve Biegel, a former Dentsu creative director, sued the agency for sexual harassment last week, citing forced trips to brothels and bathhouses during business trips, arranged by a superior, Toyo Shigeta, who, along with North American CEO Tim Andree, is named as a defendant in the case. To hear Ad Age tell it, Biegel is a married father, who coaches his son's flag football team and finds himself now fighting a huge corporation that will do anything to stop him from winning the case. Adweek's account comes off as being almost completely dismissive of Biegel's claims. It portrays him as a disgruntled ex-employee who concocted a list of outrageous charges in an attempt to get more severance after he was dismissed by Andree. "If Steve Biegel had exhibited as much creativity and effort when he worked here as he has on manufacturing this frivolous complaint, the company would not have fired him," Andree told Adweek. To understand why these two reports would be so different, you have to look at the very short, boring history of Dentsu and the ad trades. While agency reporters spend many hours speculating about the fate of Lowe, or the latest management change at Young & Rubicam, Dentsu has never really warranted much scrutiny, or interest; the execs at the agency weren't exactly the kind you spent quality time cozying up to. But in mid-September, Adweek ran a story of over 5000 words about Dentsu's aspirations to finally matter on the global stage. It not only quotes Andree extensively, but also included a visit to Dentsu's Tokyo headquarters. Ad Age's acquaintance with Andree boils down to a few mentions in stories about management reshufflings, and one account of a reporter being stuck in an elevator with him and a bunch of PR people. I'm not taking sides here—the fact is, I know people at both publications and know how hard their jobs are. But a little insight goes a long way.

8 comments:

Anonymous said...

Adweek's story was a little newsier and dug deeper into possible motivations of the plaintiff.

Ad Age's story took a cheekier tone.

Anonymous said...

Motivations of the plaintiff are clear- To be compensated for getting fired after complaining about forced Japanese sexual situations in the work place. What's murky is why Dentsu never denies them. And why Adweek never asked.

Anonymous said...

Should be interesting. Most of us in the creative realm don't question getting laid off or fired, because it is just accepted as part of the game. I think he may have a case.

Anonymous said...

thank you for continuing to update us on this story!

Anonymous said...

Seems like ADWEEK dug deeper than Ad Age. I don't think that "cozying up" to agency execs always translates into good journalism. Judging from what ADWEEK reported, Biegel is lucky that so far the Daily News, Post, Newsday and others that have reported on this have not followed up on his alleged expense account shenanigans and the pornography on the computer he left at Dentsu. How dumb!

Anonymous said...

Every man in America has had some kind of raunchy picture sent to him on a computer. Dozens of pictures, I am sure. What difference does that make? And for expenses? Who cares? They are changing this serious subject. Still waiting for an outright denial from Dentsu.

Moses Maimonides said...

lawyers were the last profession to arrive in japan...
and the most ignored...
perhaps the japanese will ask for a change of venue--to elko, nevade or one of the brothel towns in the silver state....
shigata ga nai, as they say in tokyo

Anonymous said...

Toro! Toro! Toro! Toyo!

It is clear the Japanese company's strategy is to bomb the plaintiff with charges of fraud and libel. That's classic for a defendant who can't deny the charges.

It is also clear the Japanese multi-billion dollar company have probably paid a few bucks to have bloggers bash the plaintiff in hope of swaying public opinion. It's almost comical.

Plaintiff will win the case if Shigeta is proven to be present in the brothel and bath house. No matter what.

They will settle before that ever happens and make this guy go away quietly.

How could they ever go after new business with the suit hanging over their head?

They could not win business in the US market for decades, which is why they had to puchase other agencies.

They better cut their losses and learn that AMERICAN business culture is different than theirs.