Gustavo Martinez Steps Down As Global Chairman, CEO of JWT

By Patrick Coffee 

This morning WPP announced that Gustavo Martinez would step down as CEO and chairman of JWT. He will be replaced by chief client team officer Tamara Ingram, effective immediately. The Wall Street Journal’s CMO Today was the first party to break the news on Twitter.

A statement on WPP’s homepage reads:

“Following recent events, Tamara Ingram, currently Chief Client Team Officer at WPP, (NASDAQ: WPPGY) has been appointed Chief Executive Officer of J. Walter Thompson Company, replacing Gustavo Martinez, with immediate effect.


By mutual agreement, Martinez has resigned in the best interest of the J. Walter Thompson Company.”

One week ago, JWT global chief communications officer Erin Johnson filed suit accusing Martinez of “an unending stream of racist and sexist comments” that made it “virtually impossible” for her to do her job; she was placed on paid leave while Martinez retained his job.

Earlier this week, various crisis experts told Adweek that WPP may have acted too hastily in defending Martinez, and the company will obviously no longer do so.

On Tuesday, Sir Martin Sorrell sent out an internal memo confirming that the holding company had retained the law firm Proskauer Rose LLP to “conduct an internal investigation” after Johnson’s lawyers leaked information regarding a DVD which they claim includes footage of Martinez joking about rape and making racist comments about African Americans at an agency retreat in 2015.

Tamara Ingram has led the P&G business at WPP since joining the company in 2004; she was previously group CEO of McCann Worldgroup, and her promotion to chief client team officer in 2015 made her one of the most powerful women in advertising.

According to the WPP statement, she will be replaced in that position immediately by global business development director George Rogers, who will occupy both roles.

No word on whether WPP has decided to settle with Johnson.

Updates as they come in.

[Photo via Vivian Mehra, Business Today]