L’affaire Martinez: why don’t JWT/WPP and Erin Johnson’s lawyers just get on with it?

Remember JWT communications boss Erin Johnson’s suit against former JWT CEO Gustavo Martinez over alleged sexist and racist comments and behaviour?

It seems to have moved on a bit as a New York judge has refused JWT’s attempt to get the case thrown out on procedural grounds but that’s about it so far. Ad Age has the details here.


Bizarrely Johnson remains on the company payroll and, according to JWT’s lawyers, the agency wants her to come back. Even though Martinez has gone as a direct result result of her complaint (apparently he’s working for WPP on Nestle). How on earth a communications boss could deal with the biggest (and worst) thing to happen to the agency in a decade when she’s the instigator of it is surely beyond anybody but a lawyer. Johnson, hardly surprisingly, has refused.

It shouldn’t be too difficult for a court to come to a view about whether or not what she alleges is (a) true and (b) offensive enough to prevent her doing her job. But it looks as though JWT is prepared to spin this out as long as possible which, from here anyway, looks frankly bonkers. Does new JWT boss Tamara Ingram have a say in this?

And why can’t a certain Sir Martin Sorrell knock some heads together?

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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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