It’s almost Halloween time. Think: oogie-boogie and all that bumping around in the dark, candy, beer, costumes, what fun! But, what about the other side of Halloween? The dark, grisly underbelly of pure evil? Don’t you dare think that advertising executives are exempt from doing the unthinkable. Agency Spy presents the list of 10 Advertising Diabolical Deeds, from bribery to bomb threats and even… murder.
1. Jean Brault was the president of Groupaction, a Montreal advertising firm, when his company was implicated in the Canadian Federal Sponsorship scandal known as AdScam. He was charged with fraud and testified that Groupaction funneled over $1 million to the Quebec wing of the Liberal Party of Canada in exchange for sponsorship contracts.
In early 2005, Brault pleaded not guilty to six charges of fraud. In 2006, Brault changed his mind and pleaded guilty to five charges including paying salaries to Liberal party workers who never did any work for his company. He was sentenced to 30 months in prison.
2. In 1981, Young & Rubicam was charged with bribing Jamaican officials with almost $1 million to land the Jamaica Tourist Board’s advertising account. This was the first criminal indictment of an advertising agency under Federal racketeering laws, by the way. The execs named in the filing were Arthur R. Klein, president and chief executive of Y&R’s New York office, and Thomas Spangenberg, a former senior vice president at the agency. Steven M. McKenna, the chief financial officer of Wunderman Worldwide, was charged with perjury. All charges were dropped after Young & Rubicam pleaded guilty in February 1990 to one count of conspiring to bribe officials and paid a $500,000 fine.
See the remaining eight after the jump…
3. Former employees of forest giant Carter Holt Harvey and Adrian Hood, senior accounts man at Colenso BBDO were convicted for yes, bribery and secret payments (totaling $243,000) all so that BBDO could keep the company’s business. Hood was sentenced to 15 months in prison.
4. Who could forget Ogilvy & Mather executives Thomas Early and Shona Seifert who were sentenced to 14 months and 18 months for their involvement in defrauding the US government? The pair over-billed the US National Drug Control Center to cover a $3 million revenue shortfall.
In 2005, Seifert was fined $125,000, while Early received a $10,000 fine. Seifert was also required to write an advertising code of ethics. Ha! If you missed it, read it here.
5. In 2003, Mitch Mosallem, the former executive vice president and director of graphic services at Grey Worldwide, was sentenced to serve 70 months in prison. Along with his jail term, Mosallem was forced to shell out $247,000 to $1.3M in restitution for rigging bids and over-billing Grey clients.
6. A former ad man, Robert Lee Dellinger, was sentenced to 30 years in prison in 1972 after he was convicted of making bomb threats to four airlines and engaging in a gun battle with FBI agents. Dellinger operated under the name “Capricorn of the Weatherman” and on separate occasions, demanded $250,000 from each airline or he would blow up their planes. The companies alerted the FBI. In short order, they had located the Capricorn, which was followed by a brief gun battle. Dellinger managed to escape via car, but was was pulled over 10 minutes later for reckless driving by the local police force. Ha.
In court, Dellinger denied shooting at the agency and explained the phone calls as a diversion, so that federal agents wouldn’t catch onto his “forced” narcotics pickups at the local airport. He claimed his 4-year old son was being threatened. Oh those wacky drug induced 70s…
7. Way back in 1963, Martin Cole, was the head of the advertising agency of Cole, Fischer & Rogow, Inc. Their big account was the Sands Hotel, which they held down since 1953. Marvin was convicted of trying to intimidate a federal grand jury witness. You see, Cole was in with the mobsters and has points of the Tropicana, which was of course, shady with the books. When the shit hit the fan – he became the “white collar” strong arm against witnesses set to talk with the FBI about the millions of dollars illegally running through the Vegas casino’s doors.
8. This is where it gets ugly folks. Do you know who Chris Farrell is? Farrell was a midtown advertising executive who became the editor of the NAMBLA newsletter, which advocates sex between men and boys. He spent 4 years in prison for having sex with boys ages 15 to 16. Ugh.
9. Then, there’s the recent headliner, advertising exec Joanne Hill, who killed her 4 year old daughter because she had cerebral palsy, which caused Hill to be embarrassed by her. Thankfully, the courts threw her callous butt in jail for the rest of her life. Good riddance.
10. Herbert Weinstein, was a mild mannered, 64-year-old Manhattan advertising executive who ended up admitting to strangling his wife, Barbara, and throwing her off a high-rise in 1992. His defense before the trial began was that he was not responsible for his actions because of a physical defect, a cyst in his arachnoid membrane. Weinstein’s battle is often cited as a key case in the use of neuroscience playing a part of a criminal defense.