French Quits WPP After 'Women are Crap' Lapse

24 October 2005

Adland, where sex and sexism sells, has gotten self-righteously indignant at creative guru Neil French's purportedly "entertaining" remarks about women creative executives.

The WPP Group creative consultant, whose foot is more frequently in his mouth than in his shoe, offered his resignation to Sir Martin Sorrell following remarks made at a presentation following an industry dinner in Toronto earlier this month.

French (61) told the audience that women were under-represented among the ranks of senior creative directors because: "They're crap."

Also that women don't make it to the top because "they don't deserve to", claiming that their roles as caregivers and child bearers prevent them from succeeding in top positions.

These wisenheimer pearls were delivered by the Buddha of Bull while being served drinks onstage by a woman in a French maid's costume.

The uproar and subsequent protests to WPP chairman Sir Martin Sorrell have prompted French to fall on his sword - but not before defending himself.

He says people come to hear him to be entertained: "I laugh a lot on stage and I say outrageous things."

He adds: "To be a creative director you have to give 100%, and having babies takes longer than a day. Being a creative director is hard work and you can't go home at night. It's one of the sad facts of life. Somebody has to work, and somebody has to look after the kids."

WPP has declined comment. However, adland waits with bated breath to learn whether Sir Martin will make amends for French's slight on the industry's legion of talented female creatives by offering the motormouth's job to a woman.

Data sourced from Wall Street Journal Online; additional content by WARC staff