News America Marketing's Carlucci Is Touchy About The Untouchables

Last Updated Aug 5, 2009 3:36 PM EDT

It doesn't matter what you say about News America Marketing -- that it's a monopoly, or that it rips off its clients, or that it subjects advertisers to needless price rises -- just don't accuse CEO Paul Carlucci of showing his staff that scene from The Untouchables.

News America's sensitivity to "the Untouchables thing" came up again today in an article in the Minn. Star-Tribune on the Rupert Murdoch-owned agency's litigation with Valassis and Insignia Systems. It stems from an allegation made by Valassis that Carlucci showed a scene from the film in which Al Capone beats a fellow mobster to death with a baseball bat, as a motivational tool for his staff.

Carlucci denied doing that during the recent trial. His vp, Laura Richards, told the Trib she could not comment on any aspect of the litigation -- except the Untouchables scene:
"Depicting an Italian-American CEO from New York in this way makes for good courtroom theater, but these stories are either incorrect or exaggerated," Richards said.
"While a number of movie clips were shown at a News America sales conference, the purpose was not to demonstrate a business model, but rather to offer a light moment to employees during a training session.
While Mr. Carlucci does enjoy those movies, his presentation also included scenes from 'Mary Poppins' and one with Fred Astaire dancing. He would not show a movie clip depicting any type of violence to his employees, for whom he has the utmost respect for their intelligence, honesty and exceptional work ethic."
Fair enough. But Richards doesn't specifically deny that he showed that scene, just that reports about it are "incorrect or exaggerated." And if you read Carlucci's own testimony, a section of which was provided by News America to BNET in June, you can see that Carlucci admits showing a section of the film:
Question: Which portion did you show?
Answer: I showed the speech that was based on -- and it was done, along with several other movie clips that were discussing attributes that we were presenting to the sales staff. I believe the Capone's speech had a title -- and it wasâ€" it probably was in 1992 or 1993 or 1991 that had a title of loyalty. And it was shown just in jest as something of loyalty.
The words "loyalty" and "loyal" don't actually appear in the script. But there is a speech that comes close to that concept. In it, Robert DeNiro, as Capone, waxes on the theme of "teamwork," using baseball as a metaphor:
Capone: In the field, what? Part of a team ... Teamwork ... If his team don't field ... what is he? You follow me? No one. ... What does he have to say? I'm goin' out there for myself. But ... I get nowhere unless the team wins.
And then Capone beats a man to death with a bat.

Just a thought.

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