Paul Tilley: death of an ad exec & blogs

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One of the hot topics now in advertising blogs, is the death of a senior advertising executive called Paul Tilley.Paul was the managing director of Creative at DDB, Chicago and apparently committed suicide at the age of 40. This is what happened:

– In October 07, Paul writes a memo to his staff where he said: ‘“Some of you are doing truly great work — work that makes DDB/Chicago one of the top 10 most awarded creative agencies in the world. But too many of you are only doing good work. And some of you are doing work that simply isn’t good enough.”

– the memo was published in a blog called AgencySpy which specializes in agency gossip. The blog, whose author remains anonymous, made some scathing remarks about his management style. Lots of others joined in and posted nasty remarks about Paul and his management style.

NYT reported that ‘Tilley, who oversaw teams that created the “I’m Lovin’ It” campaign for McDonald’s and the “Dell Dude,” ads, apparently jumped from an upper floor of the Fairmont Chicago hotel on Feb. 22. The Cook County medical examiner ruled his death a suicide’.

The blogosphere is blaming the anonymous blog sites for Paul Tilley’s death. The New York Post wrote about this in an article titled, ‘Blogs of Death’.

This incident has also opened up a debate about anonymous bloggers. Nina Disesa, Chairwoman of McCann Erickson said that anonymous bloggers do not have the courage to put their name up when they comment and blamed these blogs for Paul’ death.

Ooh, bizarre and scary. I don’t know Paul and I don’t know if these comments really drove him to take his own life. But I can well imagine the kind of pressure and feeling ‘under the microscope’ that executives like Paul go through every day. Especially when what is at stake are multi-million dollar businesses and every move of yours can be scrutinized by the media.

I think it’s pointless trying to control bloggers by asking some of them not to be anonymous. It is the nature of the beast. It is still an immature medium. When you are a blogger, you are your own editor and ombudsman. So there is no way of controlling what one says. Some of the comments about Paul were downright nasty and rude. Perhaps it was a way of venting feeling towards him by people who knew him personally. Talk shows, stand up comedy acts and articles also get nasty about people. But one would never know whether this kind of talk was the real reason behind Paul’s death.

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