JWT Combines California Offices

The decision by J. Walter Thompson to link its two California offices under the JWT West banner and a single management structure has triggered a shuffling of some creative talent.

Mike Mazza, formerly gcd at Publicis Groupe’s Publicis & Hal Riney in San Francisco, joins JWT West as ecd on June 1. Mazza, 46, started at Riney in 1997, working on Sprint PCS and Jamba Juice. He will be based in San Francisco.

To replace Mazza, Riney last week said it was hiring svp and gcd Jon Soto, 42, most recently an art director at Omnicom Group’s Goodby, Silverstein & Partners in San Francisco. Soto starts at Riney on May 24.

Brad Fornaciari, who had been president of JWT here and now oversees the L.A. and San Francisco offices as president of JWT West, said the idea of uniting the two shops had been discussed for years. But it didn’t take shape until late last year, as Bob Jeffrey prepared to become CEO Jan. 1.

Fornaciari continues to report to Jeffrey. Kevin Burke remains president of JWT in San Francisco, now reporting to Fornaciari.

Jeff Huggins, former ecd at JWT San Francisco, joined Interpublic Group’s McCann Erickson as co-chief creative in September. Jerry McGee, who has held the post of JWT L.A. co-president and ecd, is retiring at the end of June.

Agency executives expect the move will allow the WPP Group agency to draw on resources from both offices to work on accounts, and enable them to attract more clients and more and better employees. It also eliminates the question of which office should pursue a new-business opportunity.

JWT West claims billings of $125 million, about 60 percent of that from L.A., and 105 employees, 70 in L.A.