Blogs & Comment

Survival of the most venomous

Ramsey Naja is chief creative officer at JWT MEA

“As the cliché goes, the corporate jungle is no place for the fainthearted. Never more so than in these days when purses are tight, Darwinism reigns supreme, and there is no shortage of predators, poisonous plants and assorted head hunters and cannibals on the prowl – and I’m not talking of finance.

In this treacherous landscape there is one animal – and I use the word deliberately – that one has to be very wary of. It is the downcutter: the result of an unholy marriage between a paranoid vulture and an ill-mannered rodent.

The downcutter, as the name suggests, survives by cutting you down. There are, you see, three ways of rising in the corporate food chain: a. talent, b. sex, or, c. breaking the rung on the ladder next to you. The downcutter usually has just enough of (a) to hang on to his or her position, and can usually perform (b) only in solo. His or her survival therefore depends on their ability to break said rung, and it never involves force. Instead, it is a poison that they secrete – a vile mixture of acid and venom, wrapped up in quietly whispered words, that eats away at your support until it breaks. You then find yourself one level beneath the downcutter and he or she lives to see another day.

The truth is, these are animals that threaten the entire ecosystem of an agency. Creative businesses are typically politically charged arenas, which is normal when you consider that much of our work is judged subjectively, and that past successes are forgotten the moment you hit the slightest buffer. Add a downcutter to this and you have a recipe for disaster in the form of mediocrity.

Downcutters are usually people who have been hit by the Peter Principle and, if successful in their purpose, create glass ceilings where there should be none, as well as a pervasive feeling of unfairness amongst their more talented but more junior colleagues. My advice for eliminating them? Deprive them of their food: give them an assignment to carry out alone, and watch them being eaten by their own poison.”



  • I quiet agree with the view in this article “strange as it may seem I got into this profession of advertising based on share admiration of the talented minds” but It seems its different story now its a time to think further about things we can learn and do…

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