DDB global CEO Wendy Clark (below) finds herself in unexpected and highly disagreeable hot water over the agency’s use of former Droga5 CCO Ted Royer as a freelance on its big global VW pitch.
Royer, one of the most high profile creatives in the US, left D5 earlier this year following an unspecified complaint from staff.
Adweek reports that, in response to a complaint from a DDB female member of staff, Clark wrote: “There’s been no consideration to having Ted at DDB/NY.” When asked to specify whether Royer had assisted with the VW project Clark wrote: “same answer stands for pitch,” and said North American chief creative officer Ari Weiss led the effort with DDB New York co-CCOs Lisa Topol and Derek Barnes assisting. DDB is a longstanding VW agency although not, currently, in the US. Adam&eveDDB handles VW in the UK.
Clark, who worked with Royer during her time at Coca-Cola, may be technically correct in her use of language as Royer is currently a freelance and may not have been involved in the actual pitch. Even so, as a leading Times Up supporter and female figurehead in the ad industry, this looks like business winning over principle.
It also raises the important question of when, if ever, is someone who’s been banished from an agency allowed back into the industry. Does management have to make it, in effect, a democratic decision?
DDB has made a an official statement on the matter:
While Ted worked independently, we regret that this freelance engagement may have caused any concern for members of our team. Given the choice to make this decision again, we’d make it differently. Our commitment to a safe, fair and dignified workplace for all of our associates is unwavering.
There are times when it’s best to stop digging.