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BENTONVILLE, Ark. - Julie Roehm, the s.v.p. of marketing who abruptly left Wal-Mart after making a switch to a new ad agency, was actually fired for allegedly accepting gifts from ad agencies and maintaining a personal relationship with a subordinate, according to published reports. Roehm has denied the allegations.
As was reported last week, Wal-Mart is once again opening its search for a new advertising agency. It dropped the agency that Roehm had signed with, Interpublic Group's DraftFCB.
Sources told the New York Times that Wal-Mart dismissed Roehm and a lower-ranking marketing colleague, Sean Womack, after deciding that the pair had a personal relationship that violated the company's policy, which forbids fraternizing with subordinates. They also said that an internal investigation at Wal-Mart found that Roehm had accepted gifts, including meals, from companies vying to become Wal-Mart's advertising agency.
Womack said the process to find a new ad agency was "extraordinarily thorough and fair," and that he never had "an improper relationship" with Roehm, according to the New York Times.
Mona Williams, a spokeswoman for Wal-Mart, said that the company had notified Draft FCB that it was reopening the bid process for its advertising account and that it would not be eligible to participate. Williams cited "new information we have obtained over the past few weeks," according to the New York Times.
A second agency, Carat USA, which was selected along with Draft FCB to handle the media part of the account, will be eligible to take part in the second review, Williams said.