You may not be aware of this, but, chief executive officers of major companies are actually human. They participate in basic bodily functions like eating and sleeping. Sometimes, the need for these functions, especially sleep, comes at inopportune times. Like in the case of Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer, who fell asleep last week when she should have been at a private dinner with some of the biggest media buyers and advertising executives in the world.
The Cannes advertising festival is all about setting up relationships between media companies and advertisers. Mayer was invited to a private dinner last Tuesday by Interpublic Group. Other guests included marketer Mondelez International, Miller Coors, and Chobani. The dinner was meant to connect Yahoo with Interpublic's most important, and potentially lucrative, clients.
Doesn't seem like the kind of dinner the Yahoo CEO should be missing, but Mayer was about two hours late. By the time she showed up, Interpublic's chief executive, Michael Roth, had already left. Mayer told the remaining dinner guests that she had fallen asleep, telling one of the attendees that she was awake for 20 hours. While that sounds like a much needed nap, the dinner party was not amused.
“If it were an investor meeting, a board meeting or a potential acquisition, I am sure she or someone from her team would have woken her up,” one dinner guest told the Wall Street Journal. “It is another instance where she demonstrated that she doesn’t understand the value of clients, ad revenue or agencies,” said another guest. Earlier this year, Mayer fired the executive who used to deal with advertisers the most, COO Henrique de Castro, making her absence even more stark.
A Yahoo spokesperson declined to comment on the actual nap, simply saying “we value our partnership with IPG and all of our advertisers.”
So, lesson learned. If you are a CEO, you don't get to take naps.