Every now and then, I like to remind our readers that Ackerman McQueen – OKC’s most revered and reviled ad agency – is the long-time agency of record for the National Rifle Association and its branded-propaganda media arm “NRA TV.”
I do this for a couple of reasons…
1. To inform the public. With the help of Ackerman, the NRA has transformed from a membership club for hunters into the evil and awful political organization it is today. Some people and businesses around town may want to know that.
2. To make all the other ad agencies in town like us! They hate Ackerman more than Comic Sans, Papyrus and “Can you make the logo bigger?” combined! Maybe this will convince more of these other agencies to buy ads with us?
Sadly, it looks like my days of pointing out Ackerman’s close connection with an organization that holds pro-gun rallies following school shootings are numbered. On Monday afternoon, news broke that the NRA is suing Ackerman over billing issues.
Here are the details via The New York Times:
The National Rifle Association sued one of its largest and most enduring contractors late last week and raised concerns about the contractor’s relationship to the association’s own president, Oliver North, in a stunning breach within the normally buttoned-up organization.
The suit was filed late Friday by the N.R.A. in Virginia, where it is based, against Ackerman McQueen, the Oklahoma ad firm that operates NRATV, the group’s incendiary online media arm. The suit asserts that Ackerman has concealed details from the N.R.A. about how the company is spending the roughly $40 million that it and its affiliates receive annually from the association.
$40-million to produce far right-wing pro-gun propaganda? Even by overpriced ad agency standards, that seems excessive. For that much money, Renzi Stone would agree to grow a pair of truck nuts and get the Don’t Tread On Me snake tattooed on his face.
According to the Times, the lawsuit “leaves the future of NRATV in doubt.” Know what else it leaves in doubt? The future of Ackerman McQueen! Just like the NRA, they’re already a shell-casing of what they once were. Losing their biggest client would be detrimental.
If you work in the Marketing or Accounting Department of one of Ackerman’s existing clients, this may be a good time to review your billing records and invoices. Check this out:
The N.R.A. complaint alleges that Ackerman refused to turn over a number of financial records, including those detailing out-of-pocket expenses “that lacked meaningful documentation of N.R.A. approvals, receipts or other support.” The association also wants documents that it says could allay its concern that it was being invoiced for the full salaries of Ackerman employees who also did work for other Ackerman clients. In addition, the complaint alleges that Ackerman has refused to provide data about NRATV’s unique visitors and various other performance measures.
There’s nothing more American than a big ad agency overcharging its clients. It happens all the time, but you can’t be that sloppy with it. Let’s hope Ackerman has plenty of ghost employees and fake contractors to move around expenses, otherwise they may be in trouble!
In addition to the lawsuit, there’s a weird family dynamic to the case.
The lawsuit is further complicated by family ties. The N.R.A.’s outside lawyer, William A. Brewer III, is the son-in-law of Angus McQueen, a co-chief executive of Ackerman, and the brother-in-law of Revan McQueen, its chief executive. Ackerman called the relationships an “irreconcilable conflict of interest” and said some kind of family dispute “pervades the Brewer firm’s dealings with Ackerman McQueen.”
Yep. The NRA retained the brother-in-law of Ackerman’s CEO as their attorney. I did some quick research on the guy and he’s apparently some eccentric high-priced attorney from Texas who’s been the center of ethics complaints in the past. Ackerman released this statement about him and the allegations in the lawsuit. To get the right feel, you should probably listen to this song while reading it.
Despite the representation set forth in their lawsuit, the NRA had the personnel contract they claim AM (Ackerman McQueen) withheld last week before they filed their lawsuit. It was provided by the Williams & Connolly law firm. The transfer occurred as a result of a process for delivery of such highly confidential information.
This flagrant misrepresentation, along with other false claims, serve as the foundation of malicious intent exemplified by this lawsuit.
Months ago, legal counsel informed the NRA that “Mr. Brewer himself has an irreconcilable conflict of interest. Mr. Brewer is the son-in-law of Angus McQueen and brother-in-law of Ackerman McQueen’s CEO, Revan McQueen. Mr. Brewer has demonstrated, in words and deeds, his animus for Ackerman McQueen and these family members and that animus pervades the Brewer firm’s dealings with Ackerman McQueen, whether dealing directly with Ackerman McQueen or through other members of his firm.”
Family turning on family. People named Angus, Revan and Brewer. “Animus pervades.” This is starting to feel more like a bad episode of Game of Thrones than a lawsuit involving two ignominious organizations that deserve each other.
Anyway, I guess we’ll continue to follow this story and let you know what happens. If you’re one of the innocent employees at Ackerman and has any tips or information you think we need to know about, contact us on the TLO Tip Line. We’re now accepting new members for the Ogle Mole Network!