Recession Zeitgeist: Office Politics, Upcoming Talent Wars … Ad CEOs Think its over … the Economist Doesn’t

Recession Ups Backstabbing and Sucking Up
More than four in 10 US employees say they are encountering increased workplace backstabbing, “sucking up” and politicking as co-workers take desperate measures to stay employed amid widespread fears of layoffs during the recession, according to a study conducted by Professor Wayne Hochwarter out of Florida State University.

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many employers, you may soon be facing a “resume tsumani” when valued workers who have been with you through the recession start flooding the market with CVs as the economy improves. Planning for post-recession turnover may determine whether you’re among the talent winners or losers when the economy improves.
Global ad Omnicom Group Inc. and Publicis Groupe SA reported significant declines in revenue and profit but indicated a bottom may be at hand in the global advertising downturn. “We don’t see a recovery, but we feel we’ve hit the troughs,” said John Wren, chief executive of Omnicom. He added that it will take a couple of quarters to cycle through the current downturn, and a couple more before growth comes. “We believe the worst is behind us,” said Publicis Chief Executive Maurice Lévy. “All figures should be less in decline in the third quarter than in the second quarter.”
The global slump has reached its trough. Asia’s economies are looking rosier, buoyed by a spectacular rebound in China, where output grew at an annualised rate of some 16% between April and June. Even in America and the euro area, GDP is likely to stop shrinking during the summer. Trade, having fallen precipitately, is levelling off (see article). And, as firms rebuild their stocks, global growth over the next few months could be surprisingly robust. That is a welcome prospect. But it is not the all-clear. For this “recovery” has fragile foundations
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Razorfish: The Players, The Package, The Deal

The Players:
WPP and Publicis are competing to acquire Razorfish, reports PaidContent. That means two things: One of them will be forced to pay more than Razorfish is worth in order to get it; and it will be personal. WPP chief Martin Sorrell and Publicis boss Maurice Levy have a longstanding — and highly entertaining — personal rivalry.
Dentsu, the largest advertising group in Japan, has jumped into the fray as Microsoft opened the books to bidders for its Razorfish agency this week. WPP and Publicis, the rival communications groups, had already been considering an offer for Razorfish, a digital marketing specialist which could fetch around $600m to $700m.
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A Digital Agency … But That’s Not All…
There are a lot of players talking to Microsoft about Razorfish, among them Publicis, Dentsu, WPP, Omnicom, Interpublic and AKQA‘s private-equity investor, General Atlantic. But to best the field, the winning suitor will likely have to fork over more than money to the agency’s owner, which is looking for “strategic assets,” such as a commitment to buy its advertising offerings or use its technologies.
Microsoft is offering hundreds of millions of dollars worth of ad space to the potential buyer of its digital agency Razorfish as its pitches the deal to the likes of WPP, Omnicom, Publicis Groupe, Dentsu and Interpublic Group, which are all said to have expressed interest.
But Will It Happen?
Yet the chances of a deal being struck in the near term remain remote, according to analysts. For one, the acquisitions market is moribund, with credit still hard to come by for an acquisition that would cost between $600 million and $800 million. Razorfish generated revenue of $408 million last year. WPP, in particular, would seem unlikely to have the financial wherewithal to make an acquisition, after shelling out nearly $1 billion on digital acquisitions over the past few years. It is still in the throes of integrating TNS, too. Even as Sorrell expressed interest, he said WPP earmarked about $160 million for acquisitions, a fraction of what it would take to get Razorfish. That leaves Publicis as the only likely candidate to take on Razorfish.
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Kenya Slum Photos, Air Cleaning Plants, Colgate Ice Cream, Cheetos Bloggers, Pepsi Piss-Take, Penguin Climate Change, FML

Self described “undercover photographer” JR has created a giant photo exhibit in Kiberia, Kenya. The photos taken of women from the slum cover 2000 feet of roof tops, as well as being wrapped around the local train service (which completes the image twice a day). The exhibit, which also doubles as a second roof for the shacks it covers, is part of the photographers 28 Millimetres project.
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Cleaning the air with plants is not necessarily novel news, but a TED 2009 presentation has shown just how powerful this natural method can be. Kamal Meattle explained his experiment which used 3 plants known for their air detoxing capabilities to scrub up the polluted interior air at the Paharpur Business Centre and Software Technology Incubator Park in New Delhi, India. The results were nothing short of amazing. The New York Times explains: At about four plants per occupant (1200 plants in all), the building’s air freshened considerably, and the health and productivity results were staggering. Eye irritation dropped by 52 percent, lower respiratory symptoms by 34 percent, headaches by 24 percent and asthma by 9 percent. There were fewer sick days, employee productivity increased, and energy costs dropped by 15 percent.
Colgate wanted to remind people about the dangers of sugar with regards to their dental health when they least expected it: as they were enjoying something sugary. Instead of giving out product samples, Colgate promotional staff in Thailand gave out ice creams and lollipops. The stick carrying the sweet goods is shaped like a toothbrush and carries the message “Don’t forget” along with Colgate branding. This is only revealed once the ice cream or lollipop has been eaten.
Mass marketers have generally taken a wary stance toward blogs, but Frito-Lay isn’t just embracing bloggers, it’s letting them define their brand. The snack-maker is sponsoring seven blogs in a sizable ad buy through Federated Media for its Cheetos brand, including the flagship tech/culture blog Boing Boing, several Next New Network channels, tech-news website Mashable, Makezine and Outblush. But here’s where it gets interesting: Cheetos is asking the bloggers themselves to create sponsored content integrating the brand, over which Cheetos and its ad agencies, Omnicom Group‘s Goodby, Silverstein & Partners and OMD, will have no creative control.
A document dubbed “Breathtaking” purportedly presents the Arnell Group’s rationale behind its recent revamp of the Pepsi-Cola logo. However, some point to its grandiose comparisons as evidence the document could be a hoax, or possibly a viral promotion by Peter Arnell’s eponymously named Omnicom Group agency.
McVitie’s Penguin has signed a deal with the Zoological Society of London (ZSL) to help fund an expedition to Antarctica to research how climate change is affecting penguins. The brand will market the tie-up through a 12-week promotion on packs of Penguin biscuit bars, cake bars and mini rolls starting this month. McVitie’s Penguin will donate up to £50,000 to the ZSL, which will be used to send ‘Penguinologist’ Tom Hart to visit remote regions of Antarctica, home to millions of the birds.

F*** My Life – FML : Your everyday life stories.
hink you’ve got it bad? Check out this site where anyone can post a quick venting blurb about something in their life that’s gotten them down. From tales about discovering that nail polish remover is flammable to people bemoaning lost jobs or cheating spouses, it’s easy to let go of any recession worries when you read about other people’s disappointments. Hilarious, irreverent, and highly topical, click in to read FMLs and add your own.

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Brands v Content: Bacardi, Pepsi, Kraft, Kellogg’s

Bacardi v Groove Armada
Six weeks before Groove Armada will be releasing their new EP through traditional download stores, the first track appeared Bacardi B-Live, where registered users can download it for free. They can access the second track as soon once they’ve shared the first with 20 friends. The third MP3 can be heard when the first has been shared 200 times, and the fourth when 2,000 ‘friends’ have hear the first track. Sharing is made easy by supplying users with widgets for their websites and Facebook profiles. The sharing application was launched last week and will be available until 2 March 2009.

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In a move that some viewers considered shocking, cast and crew from the Peacock Network’s venerable “Saturday Night Live” crafted three ads for Pepsi that essentially grafted mentions, cans and logos of the famous soda into three different executions of “MacGruber,” a long-running spoof of the old “MacGyver” TV series. The ads looked just like “SNL” skits but ran during commercial breaks on the Jan. 31 edition of the show. One of the ads also appeared during the recent Super Bowl. Pepsi’s ad agency, Omnicom Group‘s change-resistant TBWA/Chiat/Day, had little if any involvement in the commercials.
Kraft is “getting the b(r)and back together” and building a campaign for Crystal Light around Estelle and her upbeat song, which is centered on a special Web site (upumpitup.com). Site visitors will be able to download free copies of a full-length version of “Star” before it is available for sale in March on Web sites like Amazon and iTunes.

Kellogg’s drops Phelps after bong controversy
Kellogg’s has become the first major sponsor to end an endorsement deal with swimmer Michael Phelps, calling his behaviour “not consistent” with its image, after the News of the World published photographs of the Olympic gold medallist smoking out of a glass pipe. The US cereal manufacturer said it would not renew its contract with Phelps, which expires at the end of the month.

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