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Kevin Roberts exits with swipe at ‘cold and timid souls’ who attacked him for sexist stance

Controversial Saatchi & Saatchi boss Kevin Roberts has left his role with what appears to be a final swipe at the “cold and timid souls” who attacked him.

Photographer Juan Carrera | Source: saatchikevin.com

Photographer Juan Carrera | Source: saatchikevin.com

Roberts – global chairman of Saatchi & Saatchi and chief coach of holding company Publicis Groupe – was forced to bring forward his retirement to September 1 after his claims in an interview that “the fucking debate is all over” and women in adland are happier in non-executive roles drew widespread criticism and led to his suspension.

Among the targets of his attack was this year’s Mumbrella360 keynote speaker and diversity campaigner Cindy Gallop, who he claimed was “making a lot of stuff up to create a profile”.

Gallop has been a longtime critic of the shortage of women in the senior ranks of the advertising industry globally.

Since announcing his exit, Roberts – whose career included a seven year stint running Lion Nathan in Australia and New Zealand – spent the last month staying silent on his usual social media channels.

But he has now returned to blogging with two posts, including one sharing a quotation on why critics don’t count.

In the first – headed “time to say goodbye” and marking his last day with the network – he wrote:

Last year I announced that May 1 2017 would be the day I would retire from the Groupe (20 years in this industry as a Network CEO is somewhat unusual) – and Saatchi & Saatchi was now in Robert Senior’s capable hands.

This plan was jolted by a controversial piece of communication by me a few weeks ago and I decided to bring my retirement forward by eight months, to today.

I leave proud of the progress Saatchi & Saatchi and Publicis Groupe made over this period and grateful for the many friends I’ve made along the way, colleagues, partners and clients.

Roberts then followed up by posting a quotation from  former US president Theodore Roosevelt which appeared to be aimed at those who had attacked him, seeming to suggest that he preferred to have failed while “daring greatly” rather than being one of “those cold and timid souls” who neither knew victory nor defeat”.

He posted:

A friend, Nick Miaritis reminded me of Theodore Roosevelt’s wise words.

It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes up short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.

On his blog, Roberts said that he intended to focus on his Red Rose Consulting venture and “provide advice and counsel on marketing, creative thinking and Leadership”.

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