OgilvyNeo, a digital unit at WPP's Ogilvy & Mather, subjected its client IBM "to several millions of dollars" in over-charges, says a labor complaint filed on behalf of an OgilvyNeo employee in New York federal court last week. IBM has been charged double what media vendors billed the agency since 2006, the complaint says.
"This suit is absolutely without merit and there was never any overbilling by Ogilvy," the agency told Ad Age in a statement. It's common practice that agencies levy fees on advertisers for scheduling and placing ads; those fees are usually determined when clients contract work.
The plaintiff, Audrey Gladitsch, is a 15-year employee of Ogilvy and currently associate digital media manager at Neo, according to her LinkedIn profile. She reported the over-charges to superiors in 2009, but was ignored, retaliated against through "hostile reviews and demotion" and suffered monetary damages, according to the complaint. She was later pulled off the IBM account.
IBM is one of Ogilvy & Mather's biggest global accounts. The company spent $21 million in U.S. internet media in 2009, according to Ad Age Data Center. A call to IBM was not immediately returned.