September 21, 2011

Winning Is The Best Deodorant

Last year the San Francisco Giants won the World Series. I have lived in the San Francisco bay area since the mid-1970's and, earthquakes aside, it was the biggest event I experienced here. Bigger than the Super Bowl wins of the 80's and 90's.

Last week, just 10 months after winning the World Series, the Giants fired their CEO.

The Giants have had a tough season, mostly the result of bad luck. Their two best hitters went down early with season-ending injuries. Pablo (Panda) Sandoval also missed about 40 games with an injury. Two of their starting pitchers missed a good deal of the season with injuries. In August they traded for Carlos Beltran, one of the game's elite hitters, and he immediately got hurt. Brian Wilson, their colorful and reliable closer, had nagging injuries all season and eventually wound up on the disabled list.

Three of the players who were instrumental in last year's championship have had terrible years.

Their remarkable pitching staff kept them in first place for most of the season, but after a while, the pressure of trying to win one or two-run games every day was too much, and the team faded.

And now the CEO has been fired.

Ad agencies are like baseball teams. They go through winning streaks and losing streaks. Some years the ball bounces your way and you can't help but win. Some years the same team with the same players gets all the wrong bounces and nothing goes right.

Having been in the agency business 100 years I've seen it go both ways. I've seen incredible winning streaks, and exasperating losing streaks. When the team is winning everybody is a genius. When the team is losing everyone and everything is suspect.

The tough part is managing the streaks -- knowing when to make changes in spite of a winning streak, and knowing when to stay the course in spite of a slump.

One thing's for sure. As John Madden often says, "Winning is the best deodorant."

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