Ad exec in NU sex-toy row defends actions on blog

By Emily Bryson York
Posted March 15 at 4:01 p.m.

The Northwestern sex toy scandal got another shot in the arm Tuesday  afternoon, as a blog post surfaced that quotes the Chicago advertising executive involved in the demonstration defending his actions and castigating the media for mischaracterizing them.

Jim Marcus, creative director of Tribal DDB, the digital division of DDB Chicago, demonstrated the use of a sex-toy on his fiance in a voluntary assembly after a human sexuality class at Northwestern University this month. The news, first reported in the Daily Northwestern, led to a call  for the ouster of professor John Michael Bailey.

“This was not about having fun and exposing the world to what we do,” Marcus wrote in an e-mail to the business blog BNET. “It was about being part of an educational offering to a small group of interested students in an optional environment. Since then, the media has shown up at our house, tried to talk to my family, pulled pictures from the web and maliciously misquoted us, using censorship as their excuse for that ethical violation. Writers such as yourself have called upon my place of work, in essence, to fire me.”

In a phone interview about the blog, Marcus, a digital advertising expert, expressed surprise that his e-mails were published. Tribal DDB’s primary client is McDonald’s.

“At the end of the day, people who work in this field are creative, and they’re passionate about things,” he said. “It would be a huge mistake to associate anything I do (outside of the office) with the clients I work with.”

After the demonstration, Marcus said: “I feel like I’ve been held hostage by this issue,” adding he was prepared to “stand up for what I believe in” even  if that meant resigning from the firm. “But I’d be sad, and my kids would be sad,” he said. “Because I love my job.”

A spokeswoman said Tuesday that DDB does not comment on “employees non-work-related activities.” McDonald’s did not immediately respond to a request for comment.


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  1. Brad March 15 at 10:55 pm

    I guess he only to be public about his sex, everything else should be private. One messed up couple…

  2. bob March 16 at 12:19 pm

    He was asked by a friend to go on PRIVATE PROPERTY and lecture about sexuality.(sexual education is controversial in itself and always has been) There was a controversial demonstration, the MEDIA made public. Where is the story with the fiance, or the Ken guy who is gaining business off of all this? or HIS girlfriend? Everyone seems more upset that he holds a title than anything else. Should a gay man be bullied into feeling bad about his sexuality?! Should a gay man have to defend his actions? Plenty of other demonstrations “like” this have happened as I have come to understand by talking to sex therapists. It sounds to me that you just happen to have a grudge against Tribal DDB and Omnicom. Which is why you are trying to drag their name as far as you can wherever you want.
    It’s pathetic you have nothing better to write about.