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How do you handle this situation? What would be your plan and specific action steps to reach the best possible outcome for the client, DC&H, Tom, the San Francisco office?

You knew that the Managing Director’s job in the San Francisco office of DC&H was not going to be easy. It is an “outpost” office of DC&H that has two clients that comprise about 82% of the revenue and almost 100% of the PBT. There has been high turnover in senior account management and planning positions, and the objectives you’ve been given by senior management in New York are to steady the ship, make sure the major client relationships are secure and begin hitting the new business trail as growth above and beyond the two existing “whale” clients and a handful of “strays” was top on New York’s priority list for the San Francisco office.

All this seems achievable. And while this is not going to be an easy assignment, you do after all get to move out of Manhattan. But there is one big – as in BIG – risk: Tom Gunn. Tom Gunn in the Creative Director of the San Francisco. While Tom is one of the most creative guys on the planet, having won just about every advertising award there is three-times over; he is one of the most volatile people in the DC&H organization.

Yesterday you received a call from the CMO of one of the core clients. On the phone with the CMO was the Group Brand Manager for HHC Division, and neither of them was very happy – Tom Gunn struck again. Tom was presenting some work on a new campaign, and at the end of the meeting brought out work that neither the Account Director or Planning Director had seen prior to the presentation and presented it as the “agency’s recommendation”. The work Tom presented was completely off both the brand’s umbrella strategy as well as the brief that had been mutually agreed by both the agency and the brand team. Tom was adamant about the work he presented was “on brief …and on strategy” and that the “brief that had been agreed to was crap”. And as you can imagine, a battle royal ensued in the client’s conference room. The client was understandably more than a bit miffed.

Not 20 minutes after you hang up with the client, in roll Tom, the account director and the planning director. They are all “loaded for bear”. You tell them that you had just hung up with the client, and that you are embarrassed by the agency’s performance …Tom’s in particular. Tom tells you he does not appreciate your taking the client’s side as well as the “account guy’s” side in this discussion. He goes on to tell you that he thought the brief was completely off strategy, and that the client and the planning director were wrong, and that his creative would be on strategy if they had not “already made up their minds”. “The next time I present any creative work to any client of this agency, I don’t want anyone else in the room with the client but me. I know what’s right.” said Tom in rather dramatic tone of voice. He stands up and storms out of your office saying, “If you don’t let me present the creative that I want to present and that I believe is right, then I’m done here. Got it, I’m done!

How do you handle this situation? What would be your plan and specific action steps to reach the best possible outcome for the client, DC&H, Tom, the San Francisco office?

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