JWT West Layoffs Signal Reorganization

LOS ANGELES Structural changes are afoot at WPP Group’s JWT West, according to the agency’s corporate headquarters.

More than 15 Los Angeles-based staffers have been laid off following the shop’s October loss of its estimated $35 million Symantec creative account, sources said [Adweek Online, Oct. 18, 2005]. Layoffs included JWT West president Brad Fornaciari, who had led the Los Angeles and San Francisco offices since the regional group’s formation in May 2004.

Fornaciari could not be reached for comment, but sources said he would explore employment opportunities both in and out of Southern California.

JWT has confirmed that it is considering reorganization plans for JWT West, though specific arrangements have yet to be revealed. Initial restructuring is expected to go into effect by the end of January.

Options include hiring creatives to operate in a branded-entertainment rather than traditional advertising space, said the agency’s New York-based North American region president Rob Quish, to whom JWT West offices report.

“We continue to be committed to the West,” Quish said. “We’re investing in San Francisco and we’re investing in L.A.—just in different ways.”

San Francisco operations are likely to continue to focus on traditional ad services “with particular interest in technology clients,” Quish said. The shop’s San Jose branch already specializes in technology, and is expected to continue to do so, he said.

Plans for the now practically shuttered Los Angeles office, however, are still in development. According to sources, the branch is expected to leverage its established entertainment-marketing practice, emphasizing brand-integration capabilities over mainstream advertising services.

Quish noted that additional details would become available by March.

—with Andrew McMains