Laughlin Constable, a Milwaukee-based independent agency, announced the termination of chief creative officer Dan Fietsam on Sunday (May 27).
Laughlin chief executive Mat Lignel sent an internal email that afternoon, saying: “Laughlin Constable has removed Dan Fietsam from his position as chief creative officer and, as of today, he is no longer am employee of the agency.”
Fietsam, a veteran of FCB and Energy BBDO in Chicago, held the top creative post at the agency since 2016. According to an email that Fietsam sent to his employees on Friday, 25 May, an attendee of an event hosted by United Adworkers publicly accused him of sexual harassment.
“Last night, there was a panel event for Milwaukee Adworkers celebrating creative women leaders in advertising,” Fietsam, president of the club at that time, said in an internal email to Laughlin employees. “You may have heard at the very end of the event, a member of the audience stood up and publicly made an accusation that I had sexually harassed someone with no reference to time or event specifics.”
He added that a similar accusation was made back when he first took the reins as the ad club's president earlier in the year. “These accusations are untrue,” he added, claiming that the Milwaukee-based club had reviewed that previous accusation, deemed it unfounded, and took no action.
"I immediately addressed the false accusations before the group and appreciated the support lent by others in attendance," he added in the letter.
However, the next day, Fietsam penned a letter on the United Adworkers site to resign and denounce the claims.
“I am a tenacious man who is used to adversity and overcoming insurmountable obstacles,” he said, “but the relentless unsubstantiated innuendo, chatter, and frankly public shaming I and the Club has had to endure not only demoralizes me to lead, but frankly, and more importantly, distracts the club from reaching its potential. I don’t like folding to a small group of inordinate social pressure, especially when people who aren’t privy to the whole truth.”
In Lignel's email to staff, he said the agency had reviewed information brought to them "as quickly as possible" before reaching its decision to terminate Fietsam.
The Drum has reached out to both Laughlin Constable and United Adworkers for additional comment. Mat Lignel has responded, saying: “Based on information brought to our attention late last week, we terminated our chief creative officer’s employment as of May 26.”
He added: “As this is a personnel matter we are limited in sharing additional information, but the matter was addressed quickly once details were made available and handled in accordance with our personnel policies. Laughlin Constable is committed to a workplace culture filled with creative and committed professionals that places trust and respect for all at the forefront of great work we do for our clients.”
Below is Fietsam’s resignation letter from the United Adworkers site in full:
In thirty years of advertising, writing this note truly saddens me more than anything I’ve had to confront.
At the beginning of 2018, I was asked to serve as the President of United Adworkers.
I eagerly accepted this role with excitement and enthusiasm. Getting to work with Gary and Laura and the rest of the UA board to push United Adworkers to the next level was a formable and thrilling brief. I was psyched. While the social aspect of the club was firing on all cylinders, we discussed expanding the creative scope of the club to help Milwaukee creatives hone their craft, develop their network skills and rub elbows with luminaries outside of the community including developing meaningful relationships with the One Show and Art Directors Club and up the caliber of 99 Judges. We couldn’t be more energized.
Unfortunately, at this time, I am tendering my resignation as President and as a member of the club, effective immediately.
I am a tenacious man who is used to adversity and overcoming insurmountable obstacles, but the relentless unsubstantiated innuendo, chatter and frankly public shaming I and the Club has had to endure not only demoralizes me to lead, but frankly, and more importantly, distracts the club from reaching its potential. I don’t like folding to a small group of inordinate social pressure, especially when people who aren’t privy to the whole truth. My singular motive is help elevate UA to next level of excellence but if every event and initiative is constantly and aggressively undermined its counter-productive.
I must commend Laura Gainor for her relentless dedication to making this club as strong as it can be. Frankly, having people attack me and put her into the middle of it is unacceptable and incredibly disrespectful to her. I encourage you to directly reach out to me if I am the source of your frustration and I will meet with you anytime anywhere to discuss any issue you may have. I own everything I do and have no fear to have direct and meaningful conversations versus anonymous, snippy and trolling in social media.
I wish only the best for UA. Gary and Laura are two of the most dedicated people I know and look forward to how the club evolves from here.
All my best,