Under-fire ad exec Kevin Roberts to go

  • 03/08/2016
Kevin Roberts (file)
Kevin Roberts (file)

French advertising giant Publicis says Kevin Roberts, the chairman of its Saatchi & Saatchi unit, would resign on September 1 after the legendary advertising boss said some women lacked "vertical ambition".

"The supervisory board and the chairman and CEO of Publicis Groupe took note of Kevin Robert's decision to step down with effect from September 1st 2016, prior to his retirement date due in May 2017," Publicis said in a statement.

Mr Roberts had been stood down as chair over the controversial comments in an interview with website Business Insider, in which he said of women: "Their ambition is not a vertical ambition, it's this intrinsic, circular ambition to be happy."

Sharon Henderson, who runs the agency Federation, says the statement wasn't just untrue, but damaging.

"I find that phrase incredibly sad and I think it couldn't be more damaging or more wrong," she says.

"It's actually quite a disparaging comment and I'm pretty sure that's probably the one sentence in that entire article that has created such an uproar and upset so many people."

Some in the advertising industry point to the fact many women - like Ms Henderson - run successful advertising companies in their own right, but they say many of their female colleagues have left the big companies because of gender bias and lack of leadership roles.

Reuters / Newshub.