Campbell Ewald Fires CEO Jim Palmer After ‘Ghetto Day’ Email Controversy

By Patrick Coffee 

UPDATE: This morning IPG announced that Campbell Ewald CEO Jim Palmer has been fired days after the “Ghetto Day” email controversy went public and client USAA terminated its contract with the agency.

The note simply reads:

“Interpublic Group (NYSE: IPG) announced that it has terminated Jim Palmer, the CEO of Campbell Ewald, effectively immediately. Leadership of the organization will be assumed by Kevin Wertz, the agency’s President.”


More updates to come; here’s the full story on the firing. (It’s worth noting that Wertz was running the San Antonio office–which he launched–and reporting directly to Palmer at the time the email was originally sent.)

The creative director behind the “Ghetto Day” message below has been identified by our sources and others as Jim Houck, who joined C-E San Antonio as an ECD in April 2015. He previously held top creative roles at Saatchi & Saatchi, CP+B and SapientNitro and worked as a freelancer with TBWA, FCB and Deutsch (among others). We reached out to Houck directly for comment but have yet to hear back from him.


UPDATE: On Wednesday, the day after this story initially ran, a source close to the agency told us that the employee responsible for the email in question had been fired four months after sending the message.


Remember the last time people were talking about how the ad industry has a diversity problem or three?

That was and continues to be a serious matter.

Today we received an email sent by a (white) creative leader at Campbell Ewald’s San Antonio office late last year to every member of one of his teams. It is…problematic.

Here is the text at the end of what we presume was a standard inter-agency message.

ghetto day

…and here is the image that the sender chose to include with that message.

cerebral gangsters

A statement from Campbell Ewald CEO Jim Palmer:

“This email is in no way reflective of who we are as an agency and what we stand for. We addressed this matter very seriously when it happened back in October. To those that were hurt and offended by this language, we sincerely apologize.”

The quote does not clarify what the agency did to address the email or what happened to the person who sent it.

We’ve reached out for further information and will update this post if/when it comes in.