Thursday, June 21, 2012

Sorry Marty

My buddy John says I suffer from excessive schadenfreude. 
That is, I take too much pleasure in other people's pain.

I'll give you a good example. Last week, Ad Age reported that WPP Chairman Sir Martin Sorrell had to sit through a humiliating meeting with shareholders and board directors who voted down his proposed $20 million pay package. This must have been excruciating for Sir Martin, particularly in light of the recently released financial numbers that reflected a 7% increase in worldwide revenue.

My heart goes out to Mr. Sorrell. After all it's not all that unusual for an employee who feels he or she had a direct impact on the company's bottom line to expect a little appreciation in the form of a raise or a bonus. That's only fair, right?

Not exactly. 

You see 10 years ago I was working at Y&R, one of the agencies that falls under the WPP umbrella. In the first 18 months of my employment, I managed the team that was responsible for the highest US Jaguar sales records. Ever. And this was when they were putting out crappy vehicles like the rebadged Ford Mondeo, disguised as a poor man's Jag. 

I also spearheaded the effort to win the El Pollo Loco account and bring the agency an additional $3 million in revenue.

I thought, as Sir Martin obviously did, that my efforts would be rewarded. They were not. 

On a Friday afternoon in October of 2003 (when the economy was in full recovery mode) I was told there was a freeze on raises and bonuses because the agency (and the holding company WPP) was tightening the belt. 

The following Monday, on the front page of ADWEEK, there was an article detailing a new 5-year pay package for Martin Sorrell to the tune of $120 million. In other words, My belt had to be tightened so his could be loosened.

There's a good chance Sir Martin didn't take any personal pleasure from my raise denial.
But that's not going to stop me from enjoying his.

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