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WPP J. Walter Thompson

JWT's troubles look set to intensify after lawyers claim to have evidence of failure to act on warnings


By Tony Connelly, Sports Marketing Reporter

March 14, 2016 | 3 min read

The controversy engulfing ad giant J. Walter Thompson (JWT) looks set to intensify after lawyers for the agency’s communications chief Erin Johnson claimed they have evidence of their client’s attempts to alert the agency to complaints surrounding global chief executive, Gustavo Martinez.



Johnson filed a discrimination lawsuit last week against the WPP agency and its chief executive, over claims that Martinez made numerous "racist and sexist slurs."

Martinez subsequently released a statement strongly denying the allegations however Johnson’s lawsuit claims to have evidence of the wrongdoing and the company’s failure to act on her warnings.

Adage reports that Johnson's lawyers say they have emails which show their client's attempts to alert senior executives at both JWT and WPP regarding Martinez’s behaviour.

They also claim to have a video of a company meeting in Miami in May, which captures Martinez making jokes about rape and African-Americans.

"On or about May 21, 2015, Johnson met with Agostini to complain about Martinez's racist and sexist comments in Miami and New York," said the complaint. "Johnson stressed the importance of having someone speak to Martinez immediately. Johnson suggested that Martinez receive sensitivity training and that a WPP lawyer talk to him about his statements."

The suit continues: "Later that day, on or about May 21, 2015, Johnson sent an email to Agostini: '[F]ollowing up . . . [f]rom our conversation re [Martinez] and the [M]iami meeting issue. We need to bring in someone to help address this so he understands.' Agostini replied by email to Johnson that she 'had a conversation with [Martinez]' and was 'addressing' Johnson's concerns."

However according to the suit no action was taken and now JWT is engulfed in a damning lawsuit which could do irreparable damage to agency.

On top of the issues with Martinez JWT’s AdVenture Co in South Korea is facing mounting problems after The Korean Times reported that the agency’s finance director was under investigation for ‘embezzlement’.

WPP J. Walter Thompson

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