Until recently, Paul Martin was a planner at advertising agency, The & Partnership, and prior to leaving the agency he has managed to besmirch their previous good (but ridiculous) name and effectively render himself unemployable with the sending of one internal email.
He was leaving the company and as is (apparently) usual in the industry, he sent an email of his Top Five and Bottom Five, usually a good-natured praising or ribbing of some of his colleagues.
Unfortunately he decided to describe one of them in his bottom five thus; “If you were the last girl on earth. I would use you as bait to trap a wild animal I would be happier fucking.”
Unfortunately for Martin, his email was released onto Twitter and I think we can safely this is the last we will hear of this little charmer in the world of advertising.
It was left to Sarah Golding, chief executive of The & Partnership London, to say: “We do not condone sexism of any kind at The & Partnership London. We have apologised to our staff and others for any offence this email has caused, and we have taken action to make it clear to all employees that we will not tolerate emails of this kind being sent in the future, by men or women at this agency.”
Paul Martin, the departing planner who sent the email, has also publicly apologised, saying that “all the women mentioned in the email are friends and people I very genuinely love and respect. After checking with them to make sure they were happy to be mentioned in the email (as part of what I erroneously considered at the time a ‘joke’) I thought it was enough to validate me pressing ‘send’. It wasn’t and should never have been.”
He continued: “The email was meant to be a stupid, ironic attempt to subvert and mock the sexist ‘Top Five’ emails that have been sent around agencies for many years, but I have totally missed the mark and take full responsibility.”
The & Partnership is not the only agency in which these “Top Five” and “Bottom Five” emails have become a toxic tradition, being sent when employees are leaving agencies. However, Campaign magazine says that a combination of the efforts of senior women and in one case intervention by HR have ended the tradition at most agencies.
Despite their long history this is the first time such an email has been made public; a reflection of the rise of transparency fuelled by social media and the impact of the TimesUp and #MeToo moments.
The email was publicly called out on Twitter by Cindy Gallop, the founder of MakeLoveNotPorn, using the #askmoreofhim hashtag and tagging Johnny Hornby, the founder of The&Partnership.
Gallop told Campaign that it is “absolutely astounding” that in March of 2018 anybody could possibly have thought that this email was remotely acceptable as a public missive.
She continued: “The entire email stands as a huge indictment of the white male-dominated UK ad industry that has cultivated and allowed to flourish this truly disgusting industry culture of sexism, racism, misogyny, sexual harassment and objectification of women (replicated in our industry around the world), that continues to keep women out of leadership and power.”
Pointing to her speech last week at the Guardian’s Changing Media Summit, she reaffirmed her belief that “If you’re not at the table, you’re on the menu.”
As Catherine Aird, the author, is reported to have said: “If you can’t be a good example, then you’ll just have to be a horrible warning.” So in that case, hats off to Mr Martin, unemployable ex-planner.