Bullys Beware

Self interest is everywhere.

Actually, it always has been. But in recent weeks it’s become markedly more obvious. And more destructive.

Which is what happens when bullys have control.

Power is a transient, temporary phenomenon. What you do with it while you have it has a disproportionately large effect on two things: your future and your legacy.

So, nothing big.

In the last twelve months two things have happened to massively shift balances of power. The global economy collapsed. And social networking exploded. Those who had money now have much less. And those who were silent, now have a voice.

The first has been manifested in the advertising industry where agencies, thrashing blindly in the death throes of an archaic business model, try to suck the life out of everyone beneath them in the food chain.

Not satisfied with ‘Sequential Liability’, some agency holding companies are now trying to impose contracts that give them the right to decide not to pay their suppliers. At any point in the production process. For any reason.

Talk about faith based relationships.

Since most agencies rarely make the first contractually obligated payment before the vendor is expected to start working, the billion dollar agency now has the vendor funding virtually every project. With no guarantee of payment. Ever.

In Vegas it’s called gambling. But at least there the house posts the odds. And the rules.

In other places it’s called abuse. But as long as the victim keeps coming back for more, nothing much changes.

What’s happening in Iran makes for an interesting contrast.

There, a thirty year-long, one-sided relationship is shifting as we watch, thanks to the power of social networking. Suddenly, those who suffer have a means to give voice and encouragement to like-minded others. And the didactic instructions of a ‘supreme ruler’ are no longer so menacing. Nor so supreme.

Fiction is littered with bullies who were toppled by the apparently inferior oppressed. David and Goliath. Jack and the Beanstalk. The War of the Worlds. The outcome of each a reflection of the underlying sense of balance on which the world operates. And those who smirk at the lessons of fiction ignore the reality on which they are based.

History is being written as we speak. On a global stage in Iran. And in the small, and self-important world of advertising.

But in each case the outcome will ultimately be the same.

And it will not be the bully who wins.