Mullen has cut 13 of its headquarters employees, or 4 percent of the workforce. Staffing at its office in the Southeast, Mullen/LHC, has not been affected.
The Wenham, Mass.-based agency cited the continued economic slowdown and insisted no individual client loss or budget reduction prompted the move.
The reduction—said to cut across all departments—represents the first announced layoff this year, according to Mullen spokesperson Brooke Smith.
Other sources insisted the shop has quietly let go at least a dozen staffers since the first of the year. Last spring, Mullen cut 30 people, roughly 20 percent of the staff, at Mullen/LHC in Winston-Salem, N.C.
All told, Mullen, a unit of the Interpublic Group of Cos., continues to employ nearly 330 people in Wenham and 535 nationwide.
Earlier this month [Adweek, Aug. 6], Mullen chief executive officer Joe Grimaldi, in a move designed to shore up staff and client confidence, named New York agency veteran John Fitz-gerald president and chief operating officer of Mullen/LHC. The appointment filled a post vacant since the departure of Steve Zades in the aftermath of the merger between Mullen and Long Haymes Carr last January.
The shop has struggled since the IPG-mandated merger. The Southeastern office, which never fully recovered from the loss of its signature Winston tobacco account, has seen several clients depart, including Sara Lee's Hanes, Thomasville Furniture and Alabama Power.
In Wenham, no major clients have left in 2001, but an expected $20-25 million campaign from Mangosoft never materialized and new business efforts have been particularly slow.
Mullen was the last major New England-based agency to have an announced layoff. Boston's Arnold, a unit of Havas Advertising, has cut 30-40 people nationwide, about 3 percent of its staff. At year's end, it will close its Cipriani Kremer Design unit.