WPP faces renewed netizen backlash over ageism

Former Ogilvy APAC chief creative officer Eugene Cheong among those lending support to campaign criticising forced retirement of senior employees.

"Are you still paying an agency where fewer than 1% of employees are 60+?" That's the question posed by former New York-based ECD and copy chief George Tannenbaum, who says he was 'kicked-out' of Ogilvy in January at age 62 when he wasn't prepared to leave. 

Tanenbaum posted his question on LinkedIn on Wednesday under a large text image that reads "Defund WPP."  His campaign is not new, nor is it rare that employees who are let go feel publicly bitter towards their former employers. 

Campaign has requested comment from WPP to verify whether the 1% figure is accurate. But the bold statement appears to have hit a nerve, earning near unanimous support among the 42 comments on the post at the time of this article's publication, largely from the advertising and marketing community. 

Among them is former Ogilvy APAC chief creative officer Eugene Cheong, who was replaced in his role in January 2019 after nearly 23 years at the agency before launching his own creative shop called 'e' last month. His post did not mince words about his departure from the WPP agency:


The criticism comes in a year where WPP chief officer Mark Read was accused of ageism for saying that the average age of staff is under 30 and "they don't hark back to the 1980s, luckily". 

After Read's unscripted comments at the end of a Q2 investor presentation in August and Campaign reported what he said in an introduction to an interview, several global ad industry figures, including Cindy Gallop and Dave Trott, latched on to the quote and the ageism accusations first began to fly on Twitter and LinkedIn.

This article includes past reporting from Campaign UK

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