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JWT top brass back Martinez in sexism case

The Viceroy Hotel in Miami seems to have been a lively old place on Monday and Tuesday May 18-19 this year, the fulcrum of l’affaire Martinez that led to the resignation of JWT global CEO Gustavo Martinez (below).

An affidavit from a number of JWT execs including New York president Lynn Power and CCO Matt Eastwood, reported in Ad Age, says:

“We are aware of several problems that occurred at the hotel before and during those meetings. We know that the police were dealing with a rowdy crowd at the hotel on a Sunday night and we are aware that employees believed that they had things stolen at the hotel. Events at the hotel caused apprehension amongst the JWT employees.

“We heard the comments that Gustavo made that are alleged in the complaint and at issue in this motion. Given the content of the highly unusual events occurring at the hotel in the night before the meetings, combined with Gustavo’s lack of command of the English language and the fact that he was making a joke about himself, we did not find the comments he made offensive. It was clear that Gustavo was trying to ease the tension that we were all feeling and the people in the room seemed to appreciate his attempt to do so.

“While we would not have chosen the same words he did, it was clear that he was not creating an uncomfortable atmosphere for the company’s employees, but rather he was sincerely trying to make us feel as relaxed for the important day ahead despite an unfortunate series of events outside of the company’s control.”

Was Donald Trump in town?

Other affidavits filed include one from Keni Thacker, senior event technology specialist. He filmed the video in question and said in the document that he is executive producer of Differenter, JWT’s diversity and inclusion program. “I have read the complaint and some of the press coverage of same, which characterize the comments that Gustavo Martinez made at the meeting as racist,” he said in the document. “I am African-American and I took responsibility as executive producer of Differenter because diversity is an issue I feel passionate about. The comments Gustavo made during the meeting had nothing to do with race and I did not feel at the time of the meeting or now that there was anything racist about them.”

Which makes it all the more surprising that JWT’s lawyers are opposing the video of the event being shown in court. The action against Martinez has been brought by JWT chief communications officer Erin Johnson, whose lawyers are fighting for the video to be shown.

They do say that once lawyers become involved in anything the seemingly straightforward becomes tangled in complexity. Still, mustn’t complain. It’s a miracle the notorious video hasn’t appeared on social media.

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About Stephen Foster

Stephen is a former editor of Marketing Week and London Evening Standard advertising columnist. He wrote City Republic for Brand Republic and is a partner in communications consultancy The Editorial Partnership.

One comment

  1. So, it was all a joke and Martinez doesn’t speak English. That’s all right then!

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