The organisers of a Las Vegas event for young creatives are being criticised for permitting the on-stage appearance of an ousted Droga5 executive who was fired following allegations of sexual misconduct.
Ted Royer was fired from Droga5 – now owned by Accenture – in February 2018 after more than a decade. He was its chief creative officer at the time. The agency has never confirmed the reason for his firing; at the time, it simply cited a commitment to "maintaining a safe and inclusive environment for all our employees".
Royer made his first public appearance following the incident on Sunday (6 October) at the London International Awards’ Creative Liaisons in Las Vegas, the award show’s programme dedicated to nurturing young advertising creatives.
In a speech lasting more than an hour, Royer addressed allegations made against him by anonymous social media account Diet Madison Avenue, revealed some of his behaviours that had been investigated, looked to prove his innocence against some complaints and then apologised to the industry.
"I don’t want to hide any more," he told the conference.
But his appearance has sparked widespread backlash from attendees and industry executives. According to a Business Insider report, several women who attended the speech were "visibly shaken and emotional" following his appearance.
@LIAawards just manipulated their audience by sneaking in #TedRoyer and giving him a platform to deny the accusations of sexual harassment he was fired for and "apologize".
Thanks @LIAawards for making it clear you don’t believe or support the women in advertising. #MeToo
Why isn't anyone talking about this!?— @Serena (@Serena) 8 October 2019
1. LIA gave Ted Royer, fired because of sexual misconduct a secret slot on their podium. And lost. Whoever thought a #metoo scandal would bring rewards must be white, male and old.
2. Congrats for IPG and FCB for realizing and acting. https://t.co/0owCAriUk6
The organisers are being criticised for not only giving Royer a platform, but also for the way in which his appearance was handled. Many attendees were unaware that he would be speaking since their programme had listed his slot as "guest speaker" and his name only appeared on the online schedule during the week of the event.
His appearance has reportedly led agency network FCB to terminate its relationship with LIA, according to Business Insider. The network, part of Interpublic, said the presentation was "deeply upsetting to some of our team in attendance" and noted that the reaction and response by the LIA "has been very disappointing and unsatisfactory".
"We are therefore terminating our partnership with them," the FCB representative told Business Insider.
Royer had been a regular speaker at Creative Liaisons before his departure from Droga5.
It is not the first time his appearance has landed a business in hot water; in October 2018, DDB came under fire for hiring Royer as a freelancer on a pitch.
In a statement, DDB said it regretted its choice: "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."
Campaign has reached out to both LIA and FCB for comment, but neither was reachable by the time of publication.
A version of this story first appeared on Campaign Asia-Pacific