You wrote a column for Adweek saying the perfect modern creative is “fierce, fearless and female.” It was polarizing, to say the least. How did you feel about the reaction to it?
I was overjoyed that people care. I wrote an article about creativity. I changed the language of it to “she.” And that’s clearly a fucking sore point for the industry. Whether you like or lump that article, it’s a sore point. So I was happy, in a way, with the controversy it created.
Outgoing U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder once called the country a “nation of cowards” for our refusal to openly address issues of race and culture. While Leonard is not a U.S. citizen, he certainly deserves the title of culturally clueless coward.
For starters, he works for an advertising agency that is predominately White and male, at least in terms of its leadership. To Leonard’s credit, his Deputy Executive Creative Director is female. But that’s beside the point.
Leonard’s response to Adweek revealed his true colors. He insisted he “wrote an article about creativity.” Really? The man doesn’t have the courage to claim he sought to confront the exclusivity poisoning the industry? Instead, he’s apparently positioning gender discrimination as being about creativity. Brilliant.
Additionally, Leonard “was happy, in a way, with the controversy [his pathetically patronizing pro-women pap] created.” This is such a spineless summation. Like the stereotypical liberal White male—and hackneyed adman—Leonard expressed pride in igniting controversy. Yet he lacks the guts to stand behind his words and continue the dialogue. Sorry, but dropping a bomb and scuttling away is a typical trait of a coward.
What’s more, Leonard is jumping on a super-safe bandwagon versus assuming a revolutionary platform. As reported by The Drum, White women are well-represented in the UK advertising community, and their numbers have consistently increased for years. Leonard’s article was not breakthrough commentary from a thought leader; rather, it presented common knowledge in a cloyingly contrived fashion—that just happened to coincide with the pro-women parties at Advertising Week 2014. So the White man’s words were probably opportunistic too.
The dearth of dames in adland is a just tiny part of the global problem of institutionalized
bigotry exclusivity. Of course, Leonard won’t touch the true dilemma. Advocating for White women is so much easier than speaking out and acting on the abysmal deficit of non-Whites in the field. As an alleged A-Lister with hiring authority, Leonard is professionally obligated to deal with diversity. But similar to other White ad honchos, he’ll opt to ignore the matter and cower behind the skirts of his White female peers.