September 11, 2013
Ad Exec Says He Didn't Know Anything
CHICAGO -- Advertising executive Fenton Schmetz admitted today that all during his successful 18-year advertising career he didn't know anything.
Schmetz, who most recently held the position of Chief Irritation Officer at Compucom, a worldwide, international, global, intercontinental agency said in an interview, "I really don't know anything about advertising or marketing or people or business. I just made things up. I don't even know how to pay my cable bill."
When asked how he was able to fool people for 18 years, Schmetz said, "I would ask people to come into my office and show me what they were working on. Then I would say 'I don't like that' and I would make them change it. After they changed it a few times I would say 'OK, that's better.' Also, sometimes I went to meetings and ate blueberry scones and nodded my head."
Schmetz said he was first attracted to advertising by the clothing. "I always looked very good in black t-shirts and I thought that if I could just find a job where I could wear a black t-shirt every day I would do very well. Oh, and expensive eye wear. I always wanted to wear expensive eye wear. The other thing that attracted me to advertising is that I like friendly girls and I found that advertising has a lot of them."
Schmetz said the most difficult challenge for him during his tenure at Compucom came at lunch. "During the work day it was easy to fool people. I just took the things that everyone else said and moved a few words around. Like, they would say, 'We need a multi-channel solution that leverages our disruption across the ecosystem' and then I'd wait a few minutes and I would say, 'I think we need disruption across the ecosystem that leverages our multi-channel solutions.' Everyone seemed to agree."
"That part was easy. The hard part came at lunch when people started talking in English."
Schmetz explained that the aspect of advertising he liked best was being with clients. "I think I was very good at working with our clients. I would make statements about 'value propositions' and 'engagement' and 'use cases' and they would nod their heads and then we'd go have a drink. Sometimes we'd go to Las Vegas and pretend to have a conference about social media, which I was really good at."
Asked why he decided to come forward with his admission at this time, Schmetz said, "It's time for me to move on. I feel like I've accomplished everything I can do here. But I want to apologize to my colleagues and clients. It was wrong of me to claim I understood anything. I have no idea why people buy stuff. I don't know what makes a good ad. I don't know anything. Honestly, I don't even know what an 'ecosystem' is. Is it like when you hear your own voice or something?"
When told of Schmetz's departure, one of his clients, Rajai Pargamanianaianan, CMO of Doodeo, said, "We are very sorry to see Fenton leave. He played an important role in our success. He had one of the most fertile marketing minds we've ever worked with. He deeply understood our value proposition and our engagement and our use cases."
What is Schmetz going to miss most about advertising? "Oh, definitely the intellectual stimulation of trying to rearrange sentences to say the same thing everyone else is saying but in a much more complicated way. It's not as easy as you think. Also, I will miss the friendly girls."
What does he plan to do next? "I'm thinking of starting a blog."