The firing last week of some 20 staffers from Hal Riney & Partners here and in New York and Chicago is more a reflection of the control of the agency's new management team of president Tony Houghton and national creative director Joe O'Neill than client budget cuts.
The layoffs, which sent shock waves through the agency, pared more than 5% of the 330-person staff nationally, but the ax fell hardest in San Francisco where 13 people were let go including several, well-respected, middle management executives who had significant tenures at the agency. They included senior vp/group creative director Greg Wilson, who had been paired with Jerry Andelin, one of the original Riney partners; senior art director Richard Crispo, who is believed to have played a significant role in the Saturn campaign; and head of broadcast buying Nancy Baldwin, all in San Francisco.
In New York and Chicago, four and three employees were laid off, respectively.
Houghton said the action was necessary because the agency had long been spending too high a percentage of its income on salaries. In March it became clear that the cuts would have to be made, but the firm delayed doing so in the hopes of winning the $40-million Sears apparel account, which Riney lost to Young & Rubicam/N.Y. in the final rounds. "I don't think yesterday was a good day," said Houghton a day after the announcements were made, "but people realize it had to be done."
Copyright Adweek L.P. (1993)