Campaign’s Jeremy Lee tells an extraordinary tale of a group of “white straight British male creatives” who are accusing JWT London of discrimination when they were made redundant after complaining about remarks made by female creative director Jo Wallace, to wit that she wanted to “obliterate” JWT’s reputation as a refuge for such people.
JWT London was embarrassed by the recent revelation that it had the biggest gender pay gap in UK advertising, a scarcely believable 44.7 per cent in favour of men.
If the redundancies and the complaint are shown to be linked then JWT London is in arguably even hotter water than its New York office was during l’affaire Martinez when (now departed) global CEO Gustavo Martinez was accused of sexism and harassment.
JWT London and owner WPP have not, so far, commented. Doubtless there’s a flurry of activity behind the scenes, possibly involving sums of money.
There’s been a suspicion in adland and elsewhere that the #MeTo movement and others like timeTo have provided a smokescreen for agencies to get rid of some expensive, white male top and middle-ranking executives. That’s not to deny that some of these deserved their fate although as none have, so far, come to court or public tribunals it’s hard to be certain.
New WPP CEO Mark Read says he has no intention of micro-managing the business (which predecessor Sir Martin Sorrell was often accused of) but he needs to get hold of this and fast if a connection between the complaints and redundancies is proven.