Tuesday, September 22, 2015

In Defense of Carly (sort of)

I try not to wade into presidential politics, particularly during an upcoming election season, but watching Ms. Fiorina command the stage and hearing about her past leadership at HP seemed like an engraved invitation.

I did some research and found that she was CEO of Hewlett Packard from 1999-2003.

I, myself have a short history with HP, starting in 1994.

Mr. Trump lambasted her for being unable to right the ship. Which begs the question, what kind of shape was the ship in before she took over.

This I know from first hand experience.

If you think of Apple under Steve Jobs as a benign dictatorship, Hewlett Packard, maker of the world's most fucked-up printers, was a decentralized model of dysfunctional Soviet communism, hung together with spit, band-aids and week-old snot.

My partner and I had the displeasure of managing the advertising for the Home Printing division. They were so decentralized at the time, they had a division (and a separate advertising agency) for every nut and bolt that emerged from their Boise Headquarters.

Printing Cartridges --- Y&R
Printing Ribbons -- JWT
Document Feeding Trays -- DDB
Electrical Chords -- McCann Erikson
Sliding Envelope Plastic Thingamajigs -- BBDO

I've never seen a company so completely, so utterly, so devastatingly mismanaged. And I'm 44 and have seen quite a bit.

To get one simple print ad approved and placed in a magazine, we had to earn the thumbs up of three marketing women, who insisted on focus grouping the ad in San Francisco, New York and Miami. Not coincidentally, cities where they could dine on exorbitantly expensive food and shop for Italian designer shoes.

They'd leave Idaho with a carry-on and an empty suitcase and return with enough footwear to sheath a small African village.

Between the lobsters tails and the Louboutins, they even managed to get a word in about the advertising.

It was never good.

The point is, Boise was a mess. Different agendas, budget hoarding, backstabbing and monumental, sometimes criminal inefficiency.

If Carly Fiorina couldn't get Boise in order, I doubt she'd have any better luck in D.C.


Salty said...

In that case, who could?

Rob Hatfield said...

You know, perhaps it's time we rethink this whole "women in business" thing.