Ex-JWT boss Gustavo Martinez working on WPP projects

Gustavo Martinez: resigned as JWT's global CEO in March
Gustavo Martinez: resigned as JWT's global CEO in March

Gustavo Martinez, the former global chief executive of J Walter Thompson, is working on projects for the agency's holding company WPP while the ongoing discrimination lawsuit against him and the agency continues.

Martinez resigned in March a week after JWT’s chief communications officer Erin Johnson filed a lawsuit in New York claiming that he had repeatedly made racist and sexist comments. The case is ongoing and Johnson also continues to be an employee of the network that counts Nestlé and HSBC among its major clients.

Industry sources told Campaign that Martinez was being lined up to run a dedicated WPP team for Nestlé ahead of an expected resolution in the lawsuit. However, a source close to WPP denied this was the case.

A spokesman for WPP said: "Gustavo Martinez and his family have left the United States and moved back to Barcelona. Pending the result of the court case he is working on projects in Spain and Latin America. Erin Johnson continues to be employed at J Walter Thompson."

Martinez joined JWT in February 2014 as president and rose to the role of chairman and chief executive in January the following year. His arrival at JWT marked a return to WPP for the Argentinean-born executive as he had previously spent a decade at Ogilvy & Mather, including a stint as global new business director.

After leaving Ogilvy in 2011 Martinez ran McCann Worldgroup in Europe and Asia as president for three years.

Prior to Martinez’s resignation WPP said its lawyers were investigating the claims but had yet to find anything to "substantiate" the charges. WPP has continued to contest the suit.

However, as public and media pressure mounted, Martinez resigned a week later. At the time WPP said Martinez had resigned by "mutual agreement" in the "best interest" of JWT.

In May WPP tried once again to get the case dismissed, arguing that Johnson "twisted the facts and distorted the context" of Martinez's behavior. In response Johnson's legal team called WPP’s submission "absurd" and insisted the case go to trial.

This week, Johnson’s lawyers filed a letter with the federal court requesting a conference with Martinez and his legal team to discuss WPP’s objections to the complaint and reiterated their request for a trial by jury.

Tamara Ingram, the British former WPP chief client team officer and chief executive and president of Team P&G from 2007 to 2015, replaced Martinez as CEO in March following his resignation.

Start Your Free 30-Day Free Trial

Get the very latest news and insight from Campaign with unrestricted access to campaignlive.com , plus get exclusive discounts to Campaign events.

Become a subscriber


Don’t miss your daily fix of breaking news, latest work, advice and commentary.

register free