Walmart's Roehm Clearly Shooting For Settlement

For me, Walmart's former advertising chief Julie Roehm

For me, Walmart’s former advertising chief Julie Roehm “jumped the shark” when she appeared on Bill O’Reilly’s TV show fueling his imaginary war on Christmas debate.

In Roehm’s latest legal filing against Walmart, which dismissed her last December, the infamous Roehm seems to be clearly trying to make enough of a stink around Walmart’s charges against her (taking gifts against company policy and having an affair with a subordinate) to make the giant retailer pay her off in a settlement rather than pursue the case to the ends of the earth.

It was not for nothing that Roehm went after CEO H. Lee Scott in her recent filings, charging that Scott is plenty guilty of taking corporate largesse from Irwin Jacobs among others. No CEO likes to be dragged through a case like this. Odds are that this is a strategy to try and get a couple of million, at least $2 million I should think, out of Walmart to make the whole thing go away.

Let’s face it. After all the headlines and TV commentators kibitzing about Roehm, the suit, the charges, etc., what advertiser is going to entertain Roehm for a comparable job?

Among the charges:

Roehm cited a relationship between Wal-Mart CEO H. Lee Scott and Irwin Jacobs, who owns Jacobs Trading Co., which purchases unsold Wal-Mart merchandise. “Mr. Jacobs also owns or owned interests in approximately 12 boat manufacturing companies, and as part and parcel of Mr. Scott’s relationship with him, over the span of several years, Mr. Scott has purchased from Mr. Jacobs’ companies a number of yachts at preferential prices,” according to Roehm’s filing.

Roehm also claimed that other executives at Wal-Mart—including former evp, marketing John Fleming, vp, marketing Steve Bratspies and onetime vp, merchandising David Porter—violated the same company policy cited by Walmart when they dismissed her by flying to Spain to meet potential vendors and accepted tickets, backstage passes and souvenirs to an Eagles concert. “None of the officers ever returned” those gifts, Roehm said in the filing.

She also denied any allegations of an improper personal relationship with subordinate Sean Womack. Damning e-mails between Roehm and Womack on his personal e-mail account, supplied by his angry wife, will make that a tough one to defend.

Since this began, I have mentioned to some people that Roehm is probably dead when it comes to a job at a big advertiser. The perfect job for her is at an ad agency where her celebrity and experience for rattling brand cages can be applied to clients who are looking for that. The trouble with Roehm is that she only had one client at Walmart, and after the relationship went South there were no other clients for her to work with.

Walmart can continue to dig in, and counter-sue Rohem ‘til the cows come home if it wants. Frankly, I bet the cost of making all this go away via a settlement is a lot less than the distasteful legal merry-go-round we have been watching for last six months.