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.