J Walter Thompson chief exec Gustavo Martinez resigns following rape joke allegations
J Walter Thompson has announced that it has replaced Gustavo Martinez as chief executive officer with Tamara Ingram taking on the role with immediate effect.
Martinez is said to have resigned by mutual agreement after last week denying allegations made in a lawsuit filed by the agency’s communications chief Erin Johnson that he repeatedly joked about rape and made a number of racist and anti-Semitic comments.
In a statement released by the agency's holding company WPP, it announced the immediate change with Ingram promoted and George Rogers succeeding Ingram as chief client team officer with immediate effect. Rogers will also continue to serve as global business development director of WPP.
Last week, Johnson filed a lawsuit against JWT in New York that claims Martinez asked her in front of a group of co-workers to “come here, so I can rape you in the bathroom” before grabbing her neck and laughing. Martinez was also accused of "joking" about rape in other instances as well as racial insults.
Johnson claims in the lawsuit that she went to senior executives at both JWT and WPP to report Martinez’s behavior, but that in response she was left out of a meeting and her bonus was cut.
Although Martinez initially released a statement denying the allegations, earlier this week Johnson and her lawyers said that they have evidence of both the wrongdoing and the company’s failure to act on her warnings. They claim to have a video of a company meeting in Miami from last May, which captures Martinez making jokes about rape and African-Americans.