J Walter Thompson is facing an employment tribunal from a group of straight, white, middle-aged men who claim that they were victims of a diversity drive.
According to Campaign, one of them turns out to be Chas Bayfield, who was a creative director at HHCL in the 90s. Bayfield made the famous Blackcurrant Tango “St George” ad, which features a straight, white, middle aged man getting very angry and threatening to take on the world in defence of his cause.
Back when he and his partner Jim Bolton wrote the renegade spot, it would have been hard to imagine that one day Bayfield would be pushed out as a representative of the old guard.
This all started with the gender pay gap figures last May, when JWT’s were revealed as the worst in the industry. Figures for this year will be masked by the agency’s merger with the more female-friendly Wunderman, but with JWT still sullied by the fallout form the Martinez affair, something obviously needed to be done.
At the Creative Equals conference last year, JWT’s new guard spoke of the “horrendous shame” that the pay gap caused, and said it had put “a rocket up the ass of diversity plans at JWT.” Creative director Jo Wallace introduced herself as a gay woman and promised to “obliterate” JWT’s reputation as an agency full of white, privileged, British straight men.
Those are strong words, which may be coming back to bite them.