The recent layoffs at Goodby, Silverstein & Partners, long viewed as one of the most stable shops here, have unnerved agencies already shaken by the recession and poor business climate, executives said.
Goodby last week cut roughly 30 people from a staff of 250. The shop has not been immune to layoffs but is seen, along with McCann-Erick son, as among the area's most vibrant agencies.
"When one of the shops that's most admired in this industry proves to be unstable enough that they have to continue to let people go, it has major reverberations," one senior creative in town said. "Goodby is the gold standard, and if the gold standard takes a hit, the rest of the industry is definitely not hot."
Executives here also said the Goodby cuts likely mean more layoffs for less stable shops coping with the recession and a drop in consumer confidence after the Sept. 11 tragedy.
"We've had recessions before, but we've never had so many downward pressures at once," a source said. "There's no rally. I'm not suggesting we need a bailout but maybe a little pressure on companies not to diminish advertising."
Others were more optimistic. "Some dislocation is inevitable, but over time the good and the great will resurge," one executive said. "Quality and creativity will continue to be at a premium, and the great shops will still be around because at the end of the day, creativity is still important."
Jeff Goodby said his shop will tough it out. "I'd like to think that people care about us because we do good work, and I promise we'll try to continue it," he said. "This company is still profitable. I believe things will turn around soon."