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Report: #1158431

Complaint Review: Williams Helde Marketing Communications, Williams Helde, Marc Williams, Liz Williams, Jason McCourt, Katie Harnetiaux, - Seattle Washington

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  • Reported By: Sam — Seattle Washington
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  • Williams Helde Marketing Communications, Williams Helde, Marc Williams, Liz Williams, Jason McCourt, Katie Harnetiaux, 2929 1st Avenue, Suite C Seattle, Washington USA

Williams Helde Marketing Communications, Williams Helde, Marc Williams, Liz Williams, Jason McCourt, Katie Harnetiaux, Philips Healthcare, Philips Consumer Lifestyle, Alaska Airlines, FareStart, Harry's Fresh Foods, Thermo Scientific, FCTI, Tokuyama Kurt Gruber, Joseph Sprague, Christina Starr, Julie Dunmire, Glass Door, Mark Williams Seattle Washington

*UPDATE Employee ..inside information: McCourt is now at Zones and Harnetiaux is at Amazon

*UPDATE EX-employee responds: Falsely Attributed

*UPDATE EX-employee responds: This story is false

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Williams Helde is a marketing and advertising agency in Seattle. Their clients include Philips Healthcare, Alaska Airlines and FCTI. 

The owner, Marc Williams, and his wife, Liz Williams, seem like pleasant people, but they know their managers are bullies. Jason McCourt, who manages creative services, and Katie Harnetiaux, who is in charge of accounts, are reputed as among the most ineffective managers in the local marketing industry. 
Harnetiaux, who started working there in 2014, sent out two angry emails to the entire staff in her first two weeks of her employment. She has an odd resentment for employees on the creative side which is strongly voiced in meetings with the account team, and barely concealed in her contact with creative employees. On several occasions, Harnetiaux has pressured employees to write positive reviews about the company on internet sites such as Glass Door, and may be writing some of those reviews herself. Her most notable professional attribute is her ability to multitask: she adeptly manages to be simultaneously detached and hostile, much like a character in the Mean Girls movie.
Among McCourt’s liabilities is inappropriate interaction with women. For example, in front of employees and without provocation, he has bothered a redheaded female employee, clearly uncomfortable with him, about her “red barn door,” alleging that her “red barn door is always open wide” and “everyone” has been inside her “barn.” Incredibly awkward, not just for the woman, but for everyone witnessing.
McCourt seems to enjoy undermining his team, both in overt and passive-aggressive ways. He often vacillates between micromanaging and being inaccessible to staff, with unfortunate results.  
What McCourt lacks in proficiency and knowledge, he tries to conceal with sarcasm and malevolence. He often does not know about specific marketing projects when he bothers his team about allegedly performing tasks incorrectly. When the projects are subsequently explained to him, rather than admitting his mistake or moving forward, he’ll quickly switch to another topic in order to resume accusing the employees of ineptitude. Then he gets irritated and surprised that his workers avoid him.
While hassling staff in his office, McCourt menacingly plays with a bullet that he keeps on his desk. It’s a symbolic gesture: the suburban cowboy flashes his shiny ammo, but lacks the hardware to finish the job.

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#3 UPDATE Employee ..inside information

McCourt is now at Zones and Harnetiaux is at Amazon

AUTHOR: Stop Enabling Bullies - (United States)

POSTED: Thursday, December 07, 2017

I agree with the previous two comments that the original report about Jason McCourt and Katie Harnetiaux does not tell the entire story. There are many employee and ex-employee complaints about Williams Helde on the Glass Door website ( dating back to 2011, which is long before Jason, Katie and the widely suspected report writer on this website arrived. The reports there on company culture are worth reading if you are considering employment at this agency.   I worked at Williams Helde in 2014, when this report was apparently written and the was temporarily located in Ballard. Many of us witnessed Jason fiddling with the large bullet on his desk and hassling the female employee about her alleged red pubic hair, but there should be context provided.  

There was mass employee turnover that year, and one of the departing employees then was an easily embarrassed woman, "R." For her going-away party, Marc Williams paid $200 to hire and surprise R with an aggressive male stripper who had foul body odor and racist tattoos all over his body. The stripper sexually advanced on R four times and she had to fight him off every time by herself. The conference room was crowded and she didn't have a clear path to the door. Nobody in the room said or did anything; not even management. It was in agency-wide situations like this that Jason bothered the redheaded woman (not R). Liz and Marc Williams just watched and laughed at it all. Nobody was allowed to talk about it afterward.

Employees were afraid to confront Jason. Who wants to be the next target of a physically large, bullying supervisor who plays with a bullet on his desk?  Unsurprisingly, several employees left soon after that incident. R went on to work for an anti-bullying organization downtown. McCourt is now  Creative  Director at Zones, and Katie Harnetiaux is Global Head of Marketing at Amazon Handmade. This doesn't mean that the problems went away. The buck stops with Marc and Liz Williams.

As for the victim-blaming commenter who is defending Jason, it's also easy to guess who she is. A lot of unflattering things can be said about that person's work habits here, but that would be unproductive. We've seen with the plethora of news stories lately that there are ambitious and cruel women who defend and enable predatory men. What she herself discloses here is of enough interest. She admits to being a longtime employee who saw McCourt and Harnetiaux come and go, and she was promoted twiice as of 2015. Is it possible that her personality is compatible with the cruel culture at WH, or she even had a major role in shaping the toxic atmosphere? Just something to consider...

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#2 UPDATE EX-employee responds

Falsely Attributed

AUTHOR: Sam - ()

POSTED: Saturday, July 30, 2016

My name is Sam and I worked at Williams-Helde as a contract employee before this report was submitted. I want all readers to know that it was falsely attributed to me and that I did not write the report. I had left the agency before Ms. Harnetiaux joined and so would have no knowledge of the incidences listed. While Mr. McCourt and I did butt heads as two independently strong personalities, Williams Helde and Jason fulfilled their contract terms to me 100%. I bear none of them any ill will and hope that each respective party noted in this report has moved on with their life.

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#1 UPDATE EX-employee responds

This story is false

AUTHOR: employee - (USA)

POSTED: Friday, October 30, 2015

I worked at Williams Helde during the time that Jason McCourt worked here and I have to say that this story couldn't be further from the truth. As a boss, I found him to be completely approachable, very knowledgeable, and one of the best mentors I've ever encountered in my 12-year career. And the misrepresentation about his negativity toward women is so far off the mark. I found him to be quite the opposite actually. He has a wonderful demeanor with all genders, he doesn't discriminate in any way shape or form. In fact, he promoted me twice while I worked for him, and he helped foster my skills to a whole new level. And I am a woman.To this day, we are still colleagues, comrades, and friends. This report was authored by a disgruntled employee that just didn't work out. I have a good idea of who it was and agreed that the talent was just not up to par. Therefore the agency had to let that person go. This decision was not from Jason alone. In fact, he did everything he could to bring them up to speed, and even pushed back when he was asked to let them go. In the end, he was told to terminate the employment. However, that person blames Jason for this decision and knowing how damaging this site could be, having used it before, decided to discredit Jason's reputation by filing a false report. There is no way to remove these types of damaging reports, and they knew that. If you find yourself on one, you have to pay to have a "resolved" response attached to it. The whole thing is quite exhausting, and very costly. Again, things the employee knew going into it. Whether this helps or not, I just want to let whoever is reading hear another side, from someone who values, respects and thinks the world of Jason McCourt. I assure you, none of the stuff in this report accurate or true. And if you get to know him, I am certain you would see the same qualities, morals, and virtues in Jason as I do.

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