Ad Man Quits After Sexist Speech

Supporters of the South Central Urban Garden rush after a bulldozer to stop it from destroying land, Wednesday, July 5, 2006, in Los Angeles.
AP Photo/Ric Francis
One of the world's most flamboyant advertising gurus has left his job after reportedly telling an audience that women made poor executives because motherhood made them "wimp out."

Marketing giant WPP Group PLC said Friday it had accepted the resignation of Neil French, a one-time debt collector, trainee matador and rock-band agent who served as the group's worldwide creative director.

The firm, which is based in London and New York, told Britain's Press Association news agency that French had offered his resignation, and it had been accepted. WPP could not immediately be reached for comment by The Associated Press.

French made the contentious remarks during an industry discussion in Toronto on Oct. 6. According to a report in the city's Globe and Mail newspaper, French said women did not make it to the top because "they're crap."

Nancy Vonk, a Toronto-based creative director at WPP subsidiary Ogilvy & Mather who attended the event, said French described women as "a group that will inevitably wimp out and go 'suckle something."'

The comments sparked outrage among many women in the advertising industry.

Vonk wrote on the advertising industry Web site, sponsor of the Oct. 6 event, that "my jaded jaw hit the floor" at French's comments.

"If our greatest leaders are busy quietly persuading girls they're just not cut out for this gig, how far is this group going to get; the brave ones who soldier on in spite of the discouragement?" she wrote.