Tom Carroll is firing everyone at TBWA/Chiat/Day's Los Angeles 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 a new initiative at the agency, led by its interactive team: "The Digerati." 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.
TBWA/C/D is staging a five-day "Reboot Camp" this week for its 500 staffers. Themed "Rethink," it features more than 60 top Web vendors and agency clients, panel discussions, parties and contests. The agency's New York and San Francisco employees and leaders from parent TBWA Worldwide's global network will be in attendance.
"This is about fundamentally changing the company from the inside out," said Laurie Coots, chief marketing officer of North America, who will lead Digerati's growth across the $1.8 billion U.S. network and eventually throughout the $5.7 billion global network.
Digerati began in 1999 with a handful of staffers. In addition to the 250 U.S. executives, there are 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.