WPP Dodges Claims That Gustavo Martinez Will Run a Dedicated Nestlé Unit

By Patrick Coffee 

Someone is spreading rumors about Gustavo Martinez again, and not in the nice way.

This morning, Campaign reports that unnamed sources said Martinez will lead a WPP unit dedicated to servicing the Nestlé account as soon as his current legal issues resolve themselves.

A WPP spokesperson declined to discuss this specific claim in a statement to us this morning. At this point, the news essentially amounts to three sources telling conflicting stories. A couple of things are clear: the embattled former JWT chairman and CEO no longer works for that agency, and the harassment case filed against him by global PR chief Erin Johnson back in March continues to work its way through the court system with no end date in sight. He is, however, still actively working for WPP clients in some capacity.


An anonymous mole told Campaign that “Martinez [is] being lined up to run a dedicated WPP team for Nestlé ahead of an expected resolution in the lawsuit.” Another source “close to WPP” denied this altogether.

WPP’s official statement doesn’t directly address the former source’s claim; it simply summarizes his current status.

“Gustavo Martinez and his family have left the United States and moved back to Barcelona. Pending the result of the court case he is working on projects in Spain and Latin America. Erin Johnson continues to be employed at J. Walter Thompson.”

The holding company spokesperson did not elaborate on the nature of those projects, though they would seem to indicate that Martinez continues working for the WPP organization despite not having an official title at the moment. And while Johnson is still technically employed by JWT, multiple sources tell us she has not been involved in the agency’s operations since filing the suit more than 5 months ago.

Meanwhile, her case continues to progress in fits and starts. In late May, WPP’s legal team moved to have the case dismissed and Johnson’s lawyers filed a memorandum in opposition in the first week of June. Last month, the parties traded letters regarding WPP’s claims that Johnson’s own statements invalidated her case, and just yesterday Johnson’s firm of Vladeck, Raskin & Clark filed another letter requesting a conference with the opposing team.

This latest document essentially states that Johnson has satisfied prior requests made by WPP and that her team wants to move forward with the filing of a second amended complaint in order to “avoid unnecessary motion practice”; the document then reiterates the original, extensive summary of Johnson’s claims against Martinez.

For those who do not speak legalese, this is an attempt to push the case toward resolution, either by way of a settlement involving “compensatory and punitive damages” or the full jury trial that WPP understandably seems eager to avoid.