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Monsters of Advertising: Recognize These 13 Horrible Beasts From Your Agency?


MediaCom is lurching, zombie-like, toward the Cannes Lions festival with a real horror show of a session planned for this Sunday. And it's bringing all kinds of monsters of the advertising industry with it.

To promote its session, "How to Survive a Zombie Attack (And Harness Cultural Trends to Grow Brands)," the media agency has drawn up sketches of 13 archetypal advertising monsters that you probably recognize from your agency life.

They include The Doll, who only parrots the boss's opinions; Dr. Jekyl/Mr. Hyde, who sucks up to senior executives but is a bully when managing down; and the Caretaker, the has-been creative director who's still around for some baffling reason.

MediaCom will have monsters walk the Croisette on Saturday distributing 500 card packs featuring the 13 cards. Check out all 13 frightening characters below.

The session itself will feature Steven Yeun, who plays Glenn on The Walking Dead, along with AMC Networks CEO Josh Sapan and Walking Dead executive producer Dave Alpert. They'll discuss what made The Walking Dead such a huge hit, and what brands can learn about becoming a cultural phenomenon, too.

The slow, lumbering, mindless hordes that suddenly appear in a company when it reaches "scale" and starts to employ "processes". Initially the bright, intelligent, quick-thinking employers who previously inhabited the company are shocked and traumatized to find themselves working alongside these very different creatures; but the zombies quickly infect all around them, converting them to be one of their mindless, slow moving legion. The company may struggle on, but it will never be the same again.

This monster is an extraordinary combination of two entirely different personalities. Charming, helpful, diligent, ever-attentive Dr Jekyl manages upwards; only this face is shown to the CEO. Dark, vicious, evil, sadistic Mr Hyde manages downwards; this face is only shown to the pathetic underlings who have to do his bidding - and who are dismayed to read in an all-staff email sent by the CEO to mark Jekyl/Hyde's latest promotion that he is "especially valued as a people person and a team player".

This past-his-prime creative star was shoved sideways and given a caretaker role in a region which had previously been pretty much overlooked by his agency network. As Regional Executive Creative Director he was expected to raise the standard of the creative product. But forensic examination of his hard drive reveals that he spent his entire time writing the same tired old copyline over and over again and trying to sell it to every single client in every single market one after another.

A gelatinous alien life form that grows and grows, engulfing everything and everyone. The first sign that the Blob is targeting you is a harmless-looking "event" in your "diary"—a half-hour catch-up meeting. You're not quite sure what it's about, but you "Accept" anyway. As soon as you do, you receive a stream of new invites, each altering and growing the original event, first into a one-hour meeting, then into a two-hour brainstorming session with working lunch, then an off-site awayday, until finally it grows into a horrendous week-long seminar/conference/ huddle 5,000 miles away that will require a month of pre-planning and prevent you from doing any of your actual job.

What will the Doll say in a meeting? Whatever it was that the boss just said. What does the Doll think our main business priorities are? Whatever the boss just said they were. What does the Doll think of the plan before us? Exactly what the boss thinks of it. Has the Doll ever had an original idea of its own? Only if the boss has.

Sent to run the relatively unimportant "Rest of the World" by his US-based global network, The Colonel was only loosely overseen by the global ExCo. Over time worrying reports emerged that he had been putting the best talent on small, local, exciting challenger brands rather than on the big, risk-averse multi-nationals. The global head of HR was sent out to terminate him. Those who witnessed his terrifying last few days still remember his chilling parting comment: "The pay-off. The pay-off."

This guy has cobbled together small amounts of knowledge about a million different subjects. He can bluff his way through meetings on everything from Long-Tail keywords to Demand Side Platforms. He has opinions on Generations X, Y, Z and O. He even knows what API, RSS, SaaS and SKU stand for. In theory, a creature made up of small amounts of knowledge drawn from myriad different areas should be an ultra-efficient media renaissance man. In reality, the result is a slow, lumbering beast who has no full understanding of anything and has no practical purpose whatsoever.

For the rest of the year, you would hardly notice this guy. He's one of the quieter, more introverted members of the team. But when the sun goes down, the moon rises, and an open bar policy is in operation he comes off the leash and behaves in frighteningly inappropriate ways. An ever-present danger at conferences and festivals – except on the last day when he tends to lie low, moaning horribly to himself.

Her origins are shrouded in mystery. No one is quite sure where she came from or how she reached her current exalted position. But we know how she clings onto power. Feeding off the creativity of others, she sucks lesser mortals dry of all their ideas before heading upstairs to present the best stuff to senior management as all her own work.

You've got a huge meeting tomorrow morning, first thing with your most difficult client. You should be sleeping now, to awake refreshed and ready to be at your best. But instead you toss and turn, waking up screaming; because the nightmare client is stalking your every waking moment, following you home via mobile, tablet and Skype, until finally he enters your very dreams, turning them into horrific run-throughs of the world's most humiliating and terrifying meetings.

This old monster mainly lies dormant , kicked upstairs and named Lifetime President of his company. Every few years, stirred into action by news of a particularly big pitch, Godzilla decides that he should be "hands on" on this one. But the aging, dinosaur-like creature simply stomps all over the good work, scares the client with his outdated views and lays waste to everything and everyone in his way.

Things are going well. The work is good. The team are unified. The client is happy. New business and awards are flowing in. What could possibly go wrong? A door creaks open, and the Hatchet enters the department with her hatchet to make 'efficiencies'. Smiling, she utters her chilling calling card: "no bonuses this year", then - pausing only to remove the good coffee from the kitchen and the free biscuits from the meeting rooms - she begins violently hacking away at staff numbers, salaries, expenses and anything else that moves.

Always impeccably dressed, the Spider Queen emanates cold waves of brittle control from her lair, inspiring fear throughout her organisation. She consolidates her position with the hypnotic hold she has over the middle aged male senior executives in the company who are no match for her predatory, strict charm.

Agency: MediaCom
Art Direction: Sam Learmonth, Global Creative Director
Copywriters: Sam Learmonth and Mark Edwards
Illustrator: Jonathan Edwards

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