Interpublic today conducted an efficient annual meeting in the McGraw-Hill Building auditorium in New York, while Omnicom staged its session in the DC office of FleishmanHillard. There was a stark difference between the two.
Openness, transparency and excellent Danishes prevailed at IPG. At the check-up desk, I was asked whether I was a non-shareholder, shareholder or member of the media.
When told I was from O’Dwyer’s, the staffer promised to get IPG’s PR chief Tom Cunningham so he could ask if I needed anything. A minute later I shook hands with Tom.
CEO Michael Roth opened the presentation, explaining why he has a black eye. He kidded about how it shows he fights for clients or that IPG’s “active board” are schooled in the ways of the “sweet science.” His opening humanized the corporate event.
Roth referred to the Publicis/Omnicom ordeal, saying IPG prefers to concentrate on clients rather than hog trade press headlines. He showed a video reel of IPG best ads, and chuckled with shareholders over some of the funny ones, including the Geico ad featuring the Pillsbury Dough Boy on his way to a baking convention, laughing hysterically after getting poked by an airline scanner staffer.
The session was over in 31 minutes, concluding with Roth leaving the stage to chat with a gadfly, who asked the only questions at the meeting of 150 shareholders. After the meeting, IPG’s board member mingled for a short time with stockholders in the reception room
As follow-up, I emailed Cunningham with a question or two and asked if he had a photo of the podium. I explained the ones I took from the third row, just in back of the full board, were pretty lousy. Roth was fuzzy, while the heads of the directors were sharp. Cunningham explained IPG didn’t have a photographer at the event, but sent a high-quality shot of Roth.
Meanwhile down south, colleague John O’Dwyer covered the OMC annual meeting, which ran 15 minutes with video reel. Shareholders photos, pictures and videos were banned. A handout warned the 25 in attendance, (of which a good chuck were FH employees) that chairman Bruce Crawford would end the session if he deemed a shareholder remark irrelevant to business, pertaining to pending/existing litigation, more than three minutes, repetitive or a personal gripe. No questions were asked.
O’Dwyer shook hands with CEO John Wren and CFO Randy Weisenburger after the session. Weisenburger commented how rare it is for a shareholder to show up.
Reasons are obvious. OMG’s militaristic style of running the meeting with its “get out of here ASAP” mentality hardly makes it worth a shareholder’s time to chase down OMC's annual meeting as it travels each year throughout the US.
IPG’s sessions are in New York, the nation’s media capital, where all are welcome.