Last Tuesday was a black day at W.B. Doner & Co. in Baltimore as the shop, currently in the throes of restructuring into a "brand response" agency with a direct marketing focus, laid off 24 people.
Former executive vice president and creative director John Parlato will move to the agency's headquarters in Southfield, Mich., taking with him at least two general service accounts--Fort Lauderdale, Fla.-based Arby's and Knoxville, Tenn.-based Bush Beans. Parlato will be a creative director in Southfield, and will work on several pieces of business, he said.
Scott Rasmussen, who has led the creative charge for Doner Direct, will run the creative department in the Baltimore office.
For several months, officials at the agency denied repeated rumors that Doner's Baltimore office was becoming a direct marketing specialty shop. More recently, they denied that any general service accounts would be moving to Southfield. Sources said the changes had been widely debated and were only recently firmly decided.
"It was really up to the clients," said Alan Kalter, chairman of Doner. "If they didn't want us to change, we wouldn't have."
Because of the tumult at the agency, rumors have also been rampant that the office might close. "That is totally, absolutely untrue," said Toney Everett, general manager in Baltimore. "There was never a thought about shutting it down. We're winning new business."
In fact, Doner quietly won Vienna, Va.-based Teligent's $5-10 million business two weeks ago. Teligent said it welcomed the agency's organizational changes.
Everett said Doner will be hiring in Baltimore, particularly in the creative department. --with Katy Eckmann