Mishal Husain, presenter of the East Asia-focused BBC World News Today, spoke with the controversial ex-WPP creative about his past and present experience as a creative legend.
French has often been a lone voice in defending scam ads being entered into major creative competitions. Asked what he thought about scam ads and if he had a problem deceiving the consumer, French replied: “None whatsoever. I’m in advertising, that’s what we do.”
He continued: “I don’t mind kids trying hard and cheating and lying to get to the top.”
Husain then talked candidly with French about being fired as WPP’s worldwide creative director three years ago for saying “women are crap” when he was asked why women were under-represented among top ranking creatives.
French qualified his statement: “I didn’t say that, I said women will never be creative directors if they get married and have kids. You have to do one thing well. Unless you can commit 100 per cent to your job, you’re not going to make it. How many [women] make it to be super-dooper creative directors?”
Asked how he felt after being sacked French said: “I would rather have jumped, than be thrown. I was surprised. In the brochure it said no subject would be taboo at that seminar. Several billion people didn’t call me after that,” he joked.
Asked about the best ad he has seen from Asia this year? French replied he hasn’t due to the recession. "It's gone down everywhere, not just here."
On the future of digital, French said: "The people who run agencies are panicking. People are Twittering to each other, and that's far more effective than any ad."
(pictured left to right: Neil French, Mishal Husain)