CEO forced to apologise for implying over-30s too old to work in advertising


59 days ago

WPP Group CEO Mark Read made the comment after presenting the first half results of what is the biggest advertising company in the world.

Asked on Twitter whether he thought WPP had the right balance of staff with TV and digital skills, this was the response from (52-year-old) Read:

“We have a very broad range of skills, and if you look at our people – the average age of someone who works at WPP is less than 30 – they don’t hark back to the 1980s, luckily.”

His comment was largely viewed as ageist, with one tweep writing "Quite a flippant statement, when the easily inferred meaning is, ‘We’re keeping our payroll in check while charging clients full ticket".

Read posted a follow-up tweet admitting he was wrong to use age to try and make a point:

"People over 40 can do great digital marketing just as people under 30 can make great TV ads."

Bruce Whitfield gets input from advertising and branding expert Andy Rice, who says that in effect, this is a diversity issue.

Well I promise you, everyone over 30 reached for the keyboard and started tweeting like mad and he suddenly had firsthand experience of the power of social media... and he had to backtrack like crazy.

Andy Rice, Branding and advertising expert

Ageism in advertising - in all creative industries - is a hot topic and yet it seems odd that it would be as sensitive as it is, or that people would be as blind as they are to the value of older people.

Andy Rice, Branding and advertising expert

Listen to Rice's response below (skip to 6:44):

This article first appeared on 702 : CEO forced to apologise for implying over-30s too old to work in advertising

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