WPP Parts With Former JWT CEO Gustavo Martinez 2 Months After Settling Sexual Harassment Case

Departure precedes holding group's upcoming board meeting

WPP and Erin Johnson reached a settlement in April. Getty Images
Headshot of Patrick Coffee

More than two years after a sexual harassment lawsuit filed against Gustavo Martinez upended the ad industry and two months following the settlement of said suit, WPP and the former JWT CEO have announced that they will go their separate ways.

Campaign first broke the news this afternoon.

“Gustavo Martinez and WPP have agreed it is in the best interests of both parties for him to pursue his career outside the group,” said a holding company spokesperson.

Adweek also reached out directly to Martinez, who at this time still maintains working email addresses for both WPP and JWT.

“It’s time for me to leave WPP to chase other personal projects and passions,” Martinez wrote. He did not elaborate on those projects.

The reasons for his departure are unclear, though one source did note that the news precedes a meeting of WPP’s board of directors scheduled for next week. It also comes during a period of unrest at the world’s largest advertising company following the resignation of longtime CEO Martin Sorrell, who confirmed last month that he plans to return to the ad industry by taking control of a little-known shell company called Derriston Capital but claims that he does not look to compete directly with WPP moving forward.

In April 2016, former JWT global chief communications officer Erin Johnson filed suit accusing Martinez of an “unending stream of racist and sexist comments” and other behaviors that challenged her ability to do her own job. After initially standing behind the executive, who many saw as a potential successor to Sorrell, WPP announced his resignation the following week.

Martinez, who initially denied all claims in the suit, then returned to Spain, where he continued working with WPP.

At the time news of the settlement broke, WPP stated that the decision would not affect Martinez’s employment. A company spokesperson also denied the former CEO’s own claims that he was serving as head of WPP’s operations in Spain, adding, “He is and continues to be working on assignments for WPP in Spain but is not the country lead.”

Erin Johnson declined to comment on the news today. She did, however, tweet a link to the initial Campaign story and a GifNote image of a setting sun from her personal account.

Erik Oster contributed reporting.

@PatrickCoffee patrick.coffee@adweek.com Patrick Coffee is a senior editor for Adweek.
Publish date: June 7, 2018 https://stage.adweek.com/agencies/wpp-parts-with-former-jwt-ceo-gustavo-martinez-2-months-after-settling-sexual-harassment-case/ © 2020 Adweek, LLC. - All Rights Reserved and NOT FOR REPRINT