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Neil French Has New Print-Advertising Awards in Works

Likely Working With London International Awards

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NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- Ad legend Neil French, WPP Group's former roving creative consultant, is readying the launch of new global awards for print advertising. He is believed to be working in partnership with Barbara Levy, owner and president of the London International Awards, to create the new ad awards.
Neil French is preparing to launch new global awards for print advertising.
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World Press Awards
The awards will be called the World Press Awards. Ms. Levy registered the domain name worldpressawards.org on Nov. 15, 2005. The name World Press Awards was registered on March 3 with Companies House, the official government register of U.K. companies. The U.K. registration didn't include any individuals' names or phone numbers, but the address was that of an accounting firm believed to be the accountants for the London International Awards.

Mr. French said in an e-mail that there is still a long way to go before he is ready to go public and that the new awards won't launch for a couple of months.

Future plans
But he is apparently lining up judges already. One Asian creative director and prospective judge said in an e-mail that the intention of these awards is to gather the best judges in the world to evaluate the world's best print. But he said he had been asked not to talk about the awards before they are officially announced.

Entry fees are expected to be about $250 for a single entry and $400 for a campaign, in line with what other international festivals charge. Because it's a print show, the organizers are likely to look for sponsorship from companies including newspaper and magazine publishers. It's unclear if a decision has been made about when or where to hold an awards gala, although a call for entries is expected around September.

When in London
Mr. French has a long relationship with the 21-year-old London International Awards and its owner, Ms. Levy. He was president of that show's advertising jury in 2001 and again in 2005. Last year the show drew 16,686 entries. Winners are announced at an annual awards gala in London in November.

Ms. Levy did not immediately return phone calls for comment.

Mr. French started his career as a U.K. copywriter, with colorful stints at jobs such as manager of heavy-metal band Judas Priest, before becoming the Singapore-based creative director of Ogilvy & Mather and, in 1998, worldwide creative director. Five years later, WPP tapped Mr. French for a role as global creative adviser to its agencies. He resigned last October after a talk he gave to a Toronto ad group in which he described female creative directors' trying to balance work with family time as "crap." It erupted into a global controversy fueled by online debate.

Cannes Lions promotion
Mr. French is believed to be planning to promote the new print awards at the Cannes Lions International Advertising Festival in June. Mr. French usually spends most of the festival just outside Cannes in St. Paul de Vence at the Colombe d'Or, where he has a reservation from June 17-26. Although the Colombe d'Or has only a few rooms, the hotel's restaurant terrace is packed all week at lunch and dinner with delegates from the Cannes festival.
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