Sexist JWT CEO claims "not substantiated" & WPP investigates CEO talking about "Gringos" in interviews

We reported a few days ago that the CCO of JWT New York had filed a suit against the CEO claiming he had made sexist and racist remarks. An internal message sent March 10 from WPP lawyers to JWT staff, states that they've conducted an internal investigation and found no evidence to support the claims. Staff were freely allowed to share this email with clients.

"WPP lawyers have been conducting an inquiry into previous correspondence on these matters since Feb 25 and has found nothing as yet to substantiate these charges.

The accused CEO, Martinez, has said in a statement to Adage :

"I am aware of the allegations made against me by a J. Walter Thompson employee in a suit filed in New York Federal Court. I want to assure our clients and my colleagues that there is absolutely no truth to these outlandish allegations and I am confident that this will be proven in court."

Clients that AdAge spoke to either declined to comment, or said they'd been assured there was no truth to the allegations.

Meanwhile WPP are investigating another CEO for claims of "racist" blog post. Mauricio Sabogal, CEO of out-of-home media agency giant Kinetic Worldwide, wrote a blog post on Tumblr that said (in Spanish) basically that 'gringos' were uncultured. It was in reference to the movie "The Interview", and he was making a point that parodying a world leader that way was "a little bit the consequence of the typical ignorance common among the gringo population, that lack worldliness and a passport, and the yellow influence of CNN that exaggerates news to raise ratings".
(Someone please inform Mauricio Sabogal that Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg who wrote the film are both Canadian.) The opening lines of the interview muse over Americans love for abbreviations, something I myself have noted on several occasions. They have BO and TP, PT and OJ, which is funny to a foreigner before we catch up on the language code.

A group of more than 10 people sent an email to Sir Martin Sorrel from an anonymous Gmail account, expressing their frustration with Mauricio Sabogal due to this blog, and calling for his resignation.

"As proud Americans from diverse ethnic backgrounds we want want to bring your attention to Global Kinetic CEO's, Mauricio Sabogal's, offensive and discriminatory treatment and views of Americans
Mr. Sabogal offensively refers to Americans as 'gringos' and declares his view to the effect that 'the average American is ignorant, naive, uncultured and without passports.

(The post also mocks) ....second and third generation Cuban Americans for adopting American names and according to him, for not speaking Spanish and not having true talent to manage the media business in Latin America."

The "What's on fire" tumblr blog also has this gem in an earlier interview, which seems like a forecast of things to come:

"Interpretation. It is believed that words do not kill anyone. However, since the quartermaster of God in Babylon, it is that the nuances of letters and words, depending on who translated them, do not stop destroying careers."

In our business we've already seen when Gavin McInness was fired from his own agency for writing opinionated articles online, but then those who called for his resignation didn't work for or do business with Rooster. Instead these protests came from potential consumers who promised to not buy the products advertised by the agency. The bad PR online was enough to spin Gavin off into his new career which is something akin to a Youtube talk show jockey / commentator, where his opinion is the draw.

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Dabitch's picture

Anyone else feel like a "anonymous email" about a blog post interview is a little underhanded? Or is that just me?

David Felton's picture

I think it's important to remember that these are accusations at this point.

There's little point in finding Gustavo Martinez guilty in the court of public opinion (as some other, less objective writers are eager to do), before the facts come out.

Dabitch's picture

In the legal case - of course, it always is. Was I not being sufficiently objective and clear there?

In the blog interview that's not an "accusation", the question is should WPP be dropping the guy for doing a stream of consciousness style interview while on a flight? In essence, are these opinions one can get fired for? Should one get fired for them? It's it having the opinions that is the problem, or is it stating them in an interview that is the issue?

I dunno that was just my stream of consciousness questions.

David Felton's picture

I think having any opinion is fine, but as an employee your represent the choices of your employer. Therefore, when controversy rears its ugly head, it's your head on the chopping block... as Gavin McInness found out.

What annoys me most is the modern assumption in cases like this: Guilty until proven innocent.