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Now WPP/ JWT say Martinez video ban is needed to protect employee “privacy”

JWT and owner WPP seem to be getting themselves into a right old tangle in l’affaire Martinez, now arguing via their lawyers that the video which allegedly includes footage of former CEO Gustavo Martinez making offensive remarks should not be shown in court because it would violate the “privacy” of JWT employees who might find themselves hassled by reporters and other n’er do wells. Poor lambs.

JWT’s lawyers had previously argued that the video contained details of JWT’s ‘Pioneer’ strategy that would be invaluable to rivals. This seems to have been pushed aside.

Lawyers for JWT communications chief Erin Johnson, who has brought the suit against Martinez (below), say: “The absurd contention that media executives somehow deserve protection against a few calls or emails from the press does not come close to meeting defendants’ heavy burden to justify sealing of the video.”

The judge in the case has demanded that he be shown the video but not, so far, decided whether or not it should be shown in court.

Martinez has now hired his own law firm too, suggesting he’s not wholly confident that JWT’s lawyers will take this to the wire. A number of senior JWT executives attending the meeting have already testified that, in effect, he said things he maybe shouldn’t but was just trying to lighten the “tension” and, anyway, his English isn’t very good.

Martinez either did or didn’t (make off-colour remarks about black people in this instance). Then it’s a matter of judging the context (they’d all had a rough time in Miami thanks to a rowdy hip hop party and luggage going missing). Johnson has made numerous other accusations too.

Anyway, a right old tangle and one which could surely have been settled before reaching court.

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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.
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