Neil French Is Out At WPP–Or Is He?

Ad Age has the scoop.

Weeks after a public address in which he called female creative directors “crap,” WPP Group’s worldwide creative director, Neil French, is leaving the holding company, according to executives familiar with the matter.

OK. Some thought starters for you all:
Is it easier to push an old man aside for making these comments vs. someone more involved in the day-to-day workings of an ad agency? Or someone who brings in new business?
Will this lead to a crackdown on supposedly uninhibited speech in ad agencies, where people are no longer inclined to speak their minds and freely discuss ideas?
Does this mean that hero-worshipping at all costs will no longer be tolerated in the ad industry?
12:54 PM UPDATE: Not so fast. Adweek has more:

A representative of the holding company confirmed that French offered to leave, but declined further comment. WPP CEO Martin Sorrell could not immediately be reached.
Sources said WPP is waiting to review a transcript or tape of the event before deciding on a course of action.
French’s disparaging comments prompted a barrage of e-mail complaints from female executives in WPP companies to Sorrell, sources said.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Now Neil’s talking to Ad Age.

It’s death by blog, isn’t it? You had to be there. I laugh a lot on stage and I say outrageous things, but people come to be entertained. They paid [$125] to sit there. If they wanted Martin Luther King, they went to the wrong gig. I’m well-known for being as outrageous as I can to make the point that I want to make. Advertising is hyperbole and I exercise hyperbole as much as I can, but I laugh when I’m doing it. You can’t storyboard a smile, as somebody said.

About Dan Goldgeier

Blogging on AdPulp since 2005, Dan Goldgeier is a Seattle-based freelance copywriter with experience at advertising agencies across the U.S. He is a graduate of the Creative Circus ad school, and currently teaches at Seattle's School of Visual Concepts. In addition, he is a regular columnist for Dan published the best of his columns in a book entitled View From The Cheap Seats: A Broader Look at Advertising, Marketing, Branding, Global Politics, Office Politics, Sexual Politics, and Getting Drunk During a Job Interview. Look for it on Amazon in paperback and e-book editions.


  1. I guess he can now “go suckle something.” Like his nest egg.

  2. I think it means that an old, sour man who happens to be a gifted writer will have to go back to bullfighting or managing aging hair bands.
    Question of the day: Why is it OK for him to do other things (like bullfighting and band management) but not OK for women to have babies? Strange.
    The less of his kind in the business, the better. He is a relic.

  3. death by blog

    It seems that Neil French’s time at WPP has come to an end rather with a bang and not with a wimper (if we do say so). I expect Neil would prefer it that way. Previously: An Evening With

  4. French is a lying and egregiously neanderthal p.o.s., I remark with a smile, knowing he’ll understand the sentiment and the manner in which it is expressed.

  5. Seems like he will land on his feet – I was so worried. But thanks to the good folks at Hart+Larsson perhaps Frenchie will stick around for a few more years.