TBWA\C\D N.Y. Cuts Staff 5%

NEW YORK TBWA\Chiat\Day today reduced the staff of its New York office by about 5 percent through layoffs, the decision not to fill some open positions and the transfer of staffers to sibling units, sources said.

The percentage reduction equates to about 18 jobs at an office with a total head count of roughly 350, said sources. The Omnicom Group agency, which faces the loss of Sprint Nextel, its largest account by revenue, declined to discuss specific numbers but confirmed a staff reduction.

“As part of its efforts to best align the New York office for the future, TBWA\C\D New York is making some staffing adjustments,” the agency said, in a statement. “These are primarily made up of a reduced number of open positions and employee transfers to other TBWA companies or offices. However, a small number of direct staff reductions are being made.”

The agency added that it “came into 2007 with a bullish business forecast. We remain optimistic, but current business circumstances dictate that we re-evaluate our plans. We remain deeply committed to servicing our current clients and to the long-term growth of the New York office.”

Robert LePlae, North American president of TBWA and leader of the New York office, declined comment.

Other top clients at the agency include Masterfoods USA, Absolut, Beiersdorf and Embassy Suites.

In early January, Sprint launched a review of its creative account, currently split between TBWA\C\D (consumer-directed ads) and Publicis Groupe’s Publicis & Hal Riney in San Francisco (business-directed ads). The consumer piece represents about three-quarters of the total estimated account revenue of $40 million, according to sources.

Sprint left the door open for the incumbents to participate, but three weeks ago TBWA\C\D said it would not, as did Publicis & Hal Riney two weeks ago, though Riney’s statement came out the same day that Sprint cut to three finalists: WPP Group shops Ogilvy & Mather and Young & Rubicam, both in New York, and Omnicom Group’s Goodby, Silverstein & Partners in San Francisco.

The tenure of the incumbents is therefore winding down, though the timing of the handoff will depend on how quickly the new agency can absorb the business. Sprint hopes to select an agency by the end of March.