Tom Carroll is firing everyone at TBWA/Chiat/Day's Playa del Rey, Calif., office today. After handing out symbolic pink slips, the chief executive of the agency's flagship office will rehire the entire staff.
The move is meant to signal the launch of "The Digerati," an initiative led by the interactive team. The mission of those 250 employees is to educate all staff members in e-commerce and e-marketing.
"The only way to define the game is to be in it," said Carroll. "This is not about some interactive group--it's about waking up every single person in this agency." Several years ago, the former Chiat/Day closed its interactive unit, which mainly worked on Web site development. Carroll said it would be a "a mistake" to do that again.
A five-day "reboot camp" will be held this week for all 500 staffers. Themed, "Rethink," it features more than 60 top Web vendors and agency clients, panel discussions, parties and contests. New York and San Francisco staff and leaders from TBWA Worldwide's global network will attend.
"This is about fundamentally changing the company from the inside out," said Laurie Coots, chief marketing officer of North America, who will lead Digerati "movement" growth across the $1.8 billion U.S. network and eventually throughout the $5.7 billion global network.
Digerati began this year with a few staffers helping clients with Web strategies. It now has 250 U.S. executives and another 100 worldwide. Bob Kuperman, worldwide president/CEO of the Americas, likened the move to "a good virus" changing the shop. Since April, TBWA/C/D's three U.S. offices have won 13 dot.com clients, with estimated billings of $290 million, Coots said.