Monday, July 5, 2010

"Don't tell anybody..."

One of the best jobs I ever had at McCann was running the Coca-Cola business in Mexico. It was exciting to have such a great brand and such a dynamic market to create advertising for. I had a team and we functioned apart from the normal hum-drum of the Agency. We were basically an independent unit, and I loved it. I only had to deal with the administration of my team and the running of the account, even though it was a very large complicated piece of business.

The most difficult part was the day-to-day dealing with the head of Coke for Mexico. A dynamic, creative, forceful personality, that at times was a terror. He loved to intimidate people, and did it at any opportunity he had, he even did it when he didn’t have any reason to.

He loved demonstrating his power. In spite of all this, I truly liked and respected him; I admired pretty much most of his traits. We did some great work for the account, and most of it would have been impossible without him, great client, but at times seemed slightly erratic. I suppose that’s what made him so interesting. We remained friends for many years after I left Mexico and he went on to other things after he left Coca-Cola.

A memorable and difficult guy.

One day we presented some work for Sprite, even though he had approved the original idea, he decided he hated it, really hated it, and just so we understood, he screamed that he hated it, “I hate this piece of shit.” This was done in front of his marketing department, bright, young, talented terrified kids, as well as the agency; the reaction seemed to please him.

Marketing guys throwing up in the corner, everybody thinking they were going to be fired.

He turned around to me and started to harangue me. I said, “You do not terrify me.” He stopped and looked at me and told me to come to his office.

We went to his office, he closed the door and asked me why he did not scare me, and that he could fire the agency. I told him I had just been through something much worse the year before, Cancer, that scared me, not this, or him.

He stood up and said, ”Do not tell anybody that that you are not scared of me.” I looked at him and agreed, I suddenly realized we were on another footing with each other.

Ever since then I acted appropriately terrified in public, and we had a great working relationship. He needed the power that fear of him, gave him. His management style was POWER.

It seemed to be a very Mexican way to manage, Greek as well. If you are taken to be weak, you are taken advantage of. Fear seemingly works, sorry to say.

So when the time comes to being scared, be scared. Not always, only when it is really necessary. If you think about it, you will probably be scared less times.


  1. Those were the days that produced the Coca-Cola wave....Ahh, Mexico......

  2. I knew an executive of a company I worked for that was exactly like this. Not only did I not fear him for similar reasons that you had, but I had absolutely no respect for him. He eventually wound up in jail embezzlement and inclome tax evasion and destroying a medium sized company and putting hundreds of people out of work.

    To rule through fear, to me, means that you have no confidence in yourself as a man. When you respect someone you want to do for him. When you love him you will do everything in your power to please him. When you fear him, you hate him, so your performance is greatly lacking, in my opinion.

    I suppose there are always two sides to every story but this guy wanted to rule by fear because he probably was afraid.

  3. He still had some good qualities, I liked him

  4. If you liked him I am sure he had great qualities.

    My comments were directed to the shithead I knew so my remarks were about him. If you liked this guy I'm sure he commanded your respect and probably would command mine also if I knew him.

    I was just making a general obsevation about a specific individual. I really wasn't being fair.

    Sorry about that buddy.