This story is a bit of a sh*t show for all involved.
Several reports emerged this week that DDB hired Ted Royer, the former top creative at Droga5, to work on DDB’s pitch for Volkswagen in a freelance capacity. Apparently, Royer and DDB global CEO Wendy Clark worked together while she was at Coca-Cola.
Droga5 parted ways with Royer earlier this year amid speculation that he may have sexually harassed staffers at the agency.
But it’s all a bit murky and unproven, publicly at least. The agency never confirmed why it parted ways with Royer. It issued some vague statement at the time about wanting to maintain a safe workplace environment. That’s all well and good — everyone should have a safe and nurturing workplace in which to conduct business.
But if Royer was booted for sexually harassing one or more people or otherwise treated underlings in an abusive manner, isn’t it better to just say that instead of letting some nebulous cloud hang over the guy’s head?
Royer hasn’t said much about the situation either. And it doesn’t appear that he’s taken any legal action, like Ralph Watson, who is suing Diet Madison Avenue after it anonymously alleged he sexually harassed people at CPB, which subsequently let him go. That case is ongoing.
Adweek even suggested that Clark was less than candid, shall we say, about hiring Royer to work on the VW pitch last month when the publication asked about rumors to that effect.
DDB issued a statement this week saying Clark made a mistake hiring Royer to work on the VW pitch. And she resigned from her role on the Time's Up Advertising leadership council.
But here’s the laughable part — she’s being replaced by a subordinate, Lisa Topol, one of the agency’s top creatives in New York.
You have to be kidding, right? What kind of a message does that send Time's Up Advertising? Either DDB shares your values or it doesn’t, regardless of the executive representing the organization.
Same question to DDB. Mistake? It wasn’t a mistake. You hired Royer knowing full well the circumstances of his departure from Droga5. You hired him because you thought he could help put together a winning pitch.
This whole guilt-by-anonymous-insinuation approach to weeding bad actors out of Adland needs to be rethought.
Take a cue from The New Yorker and The New York Times: Nail people to the wall for their bad behavior with on-the-record evidence and bypass all this Starr Chamber BS. It’s the fairest way for all concerned parties.