Monday, October 31, 2005


CB asked Jeneal Rohrback, creative director of Young & Rubicam, Auckland, to respond to the outrageous comments made by WPP worldwide CD Neil French in Canada last month.....

It made my blood boil after reading the AdAge article where Neil French says,” Women don’t make it to the top because they don’t deserve to”, “They’re crap” and “They wimp out and suckle something”.

I then slept on it (badly) and woke up with a slightly milder thought in my head – How could such a brilliant man be so stupid?

Why would he say what he said?

Things rolled around in my head for a couple more days, as I got more and more confused (and pissed off) about what I should do about it. I told Michael Lynch over the phone, “I’m tired of talking about the same old advertising sexism issues to no avail, and if I was going to talk about it again I needed a new spin on it. Nobody will listen unless I come at it from another angle – especially the guys”.

Then I thought BULLSHIT! What Neil French thinks is embarrassingly wrong and I’m not going to pussy foot round. I want to tell him exactly how I feel.

There are some fabulously talented female creative directors out there like Rosie Arnold and Kate Stanners in the UK, Emma Hill in Australia, and Lara Palmer in Canada, just to name a few. And guess what? Rosie and Kate have had babies and being mothers didn’t ruin their careers. In fact it probably made them better. It certainly did for me.

My point being that they’ve managed to build their advertising acumen and reputations, AND have a balanced life too. They can juggle the kids, washing up, grocery shopping and their careers and are still very much intact. These everyday things are what makes an ad person stay in touch with real life. These are the things we need to understand so we can understand people (our audience) out there. It’s the only way we can do our job properly. Other interesting prongs to this argument are that women make most of the purchasing decisions in this country and earn 82% of men’s earnings, but I’ll save that for another article. So, not only does having a more balanced life help our job, it helps our families and us.

Because the flip side of having this balance can be a life full of constant rows over working late, lies, divorce, philandering, alcohol & drug abuse, unhealthy egos & competitiveness, neglected partners & children, and the list goes on and on.

This might sound like I’m exaggerating, but I know you all know what I’m talking about. We’ve all had our fair share of the list above. But things are changing, albeit slowly. Women (and some men) don’t want this fucked- up life. In fact, that’s probably the answer to why a lot of women leave advertising in the end.

Neil also says that if you can’t commit 100% to your job don’t pretend you can. Nobody deserves a job unless they can commit.

Well that depends on your definition of 100% commitment. Mine is that you are doing your job 100% if you’re leading a balanced life whilst you’re doing the hard yards at work. I suspect that Mr French’s is very different to mine, and is probably about being obsessively focused on nothing but the ad business. In my mind this is a loss of focus. It’s what will distance you from people in the end. You have no real sense of what makes people tick. What they feel, want and needs . And Neil demonstrated this loss of connection when he blurted out his self-centred views on ad women the other day.

Life has moved on to a better place Mr French - a place where we can still be brilliant at our jobs and take our kids to the cinema once in a while. And if anyone is crap it’s you, for exacerbating this attitude instead of trying to change it.

NB: I’m writing this on a Sunday and I’m going to stop now so I can go to the shops and spend some time with my family and friends. How crap is that?


Anonymous Anonymous said...

The fucking snake's being trying to eat his tail for years. Looks like he's finally succeeded.

11:15 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

One old-school Creative Director down, several hundred to go.

1:11 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

How sad and pathetic that there are still men out there who think like this. Please tell me he hasn't bred. (Though really, with an attitude like that, what woman would take him - not me!)

3:53 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

How dissapointing. As probably every other creative under 40 years old, I grew up worshipping this man. To me and many of us, he was god. To see a true advertising legend of his calibre put his foot on his mouth on that pathetic way and being ousted of what is probably the top creative job in the world is, frankly, very, very sad. He has failed to understand that with great power comes greater responsibility. His comments were, at least, dangerously irresponsible. At most, well, that depends on your own individual interpretation. For a person of his stature and position, 60 years of age, to not fully understand the consequences of your acts it's just unforgivable. How mighty have fallen.

4:52 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You dumb arses, didn't you get the joke.

I suspect that the whole thing was to wind people up. Especially the yanks. Who, as we know, are an easy target.

I can imagine the scene, a bunch of up-tight, brooding career driven clones with dark 'bob' hairstyles drinking french mineral water, saying nothing of note at a boring industry function, all too scared to say anything controversial, all being shocked by what he's saying.

To appear not shocked in public, would be bad for ones advance up the corporate ladder.

They probably went home to their metrosexual, pussy-whipped Coldplay listening tennis club husbands, and made him listen to her rants while he did the washing up.

The problem is, they're the same type of women who balk at the idea of someone not good looking appearing in one of their ads. They're the same women who have Make-up and Fashion clients. And I don't see too many society defying decisions being made there.

For Christ sake. Get over it. Neil French has made a name out of giving middle of the road, politically correct new age capitalists a hard time.

This is an easy PR release of suspect nature.

Why don't we spend more time fighting the rise of conservative, career driven, bland, badly trained people entering the advertising market

10:12 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Some of my best friends are chicks. Some of them can do ads, but not many. And the ones that can't do ads can really cook. But the ones that can sure make the creative dept look purdy.

10:33 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

How predictable. The idiotic mysoginistic comments weren't late to arrive.

What a dumb ass, I didn't get the joke....

An Old man enters a Bar. He makes a totally out of place sexist comment, putting the organization that pays his hefty salary on a potential for loss of clients and revenue.
Then he gets retrenched from his multi-million dollar job, and loses respect of thousand of people around the world (yes, including men too).

Ha, ha, ha, how bloody hilarious!!! I'm peeing my pants with laughter!!! Great Joke!

What a moron.

11:19 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I got the joke.

11:43 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Good on ya.

7:06 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

regardless of your 'bits' 95% of all advertising is crap and it just ain't the cds fault. suits, planners, the creatives and especially the clients have to shoulder the blame.

working harder helps but it ain't the hours alone. some of the most brilliant creatives in the world lead somewhat normal hours.

don't confuse working smarter with harder. learn your craft. don't get shit faced at lunchtime 'cause the people in the best agencies in the world don't. don't copy last years award books. don't waste time at work. kill most clients. and kiss the good ones - everyday.

1:04 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I remember this lady at the Caxtons trying to palm off some teaspoon and sugar invention that was going to revolutionise the world and get her out of advertising. Obviously it didn't take off.

3:33 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home