WPP Pulls French From Panel

Ad Age: Controversial creative Neil French was the most talked-about speaker on the first day of Asian regional advertising conference AdAsia — even though his appearance was abruptly canceled at WPP Group’s insistence.
More than 1,000 delegates are attending the Nov. 21-23 AdAsia conference in Singapore, and many were eager to hear Mr. French, who created a worldwide furor at a talk in Canada when he called women creatives “crap” and said they don’t work hard enough to be successful because of the time they spend raising children.
Mr. French’s non-appearance was the lead story in a local trade publication’s AdAsia show daily, which quoted an e-mail from a WPP executive to AdAsia organizers apologizing “that you are in this situation, but I do not think we can change our position on Neil.”
In Asia, where Mr. French has spent much of his career based in Singapore, not everyone understands what the fuss is about. At a private dinner on Monday night, one Australian creative said Mr. French is simply “cheeky” and had a good record on encouraging and promoting women. Another creative said, “You have to look at [his remarks] through a cultural filter. In Singapore, it’s still legal to beat your wife.”

About David Burn

I wrote my first ad for a political candidate when I was 17 years old. She won her race and I felt the seductive power of advertising for the first time. Today—after working for seven agencies in five states—I am head of brand strategy and creative direction at Bonehook in Portland, Oregon.