Mullen Cuts 56

BOSTON Interpublic Group’s Mullen on Monday initiated across-the-board layoffs, cutting 56 staffers, the agency said. The cuts had been expected following the shop’s loss about three weeks ago of creative chores on the $150 million Nextel account.

That piece of business had been the shop’s largest.

The cut represents 10 percent of the agency’s nationwide workforce, according to Melissa Lea, EVP, director of business development at Mullen.

Although making the cuts was difficult, “strong companies do these things to stay strong” and the loss of Nextel left the agency with no alternative, Lea said.

Sources who requested anonymity said nationwide layoffs could go as high as 30 percent, but Lea insisted that no further cuts are planned.

The cuts are mainly in the shop’s Wenham, Mass., headquarters, though some members of its “field staff” located elsewhere will also be affected, Lea said.

Mullen had handled Nextel for seven years. It was replaced following a review by Omnicom’s TBWA\Chiat\Day, New York.

Mullen chief executive Joe Grimaldi did not return calls.

The agency on Friday following a review landed creative chores for XM Satellite Radio. Even so, it was understood at the shop that big cuts were coming and that the XM account (estimated at $35-40 million) would do little to mitigate their severity, sources said.

Billings and revenue rose about 5 percent at Mullen last year to an estimated $672 million and $101 million, respectively.