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Western Consolidates

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Layoffs Affect L.A.; Orange County Closes
LOS ANGELES--Western Initiative Media Worldwide has handed out pink slips to more than 30 employees over the past few weeks as it restructures, and is in talks to hire a senior executive under president Michael Kassan.
Included in the layoffs were senior-level executives in Los Angeles, including executive vice president and marketing director Emil Iannaccone and senior vice president, account services David Bryman. John Vrba, the Orange County chief, and Terry DeVoto, managing director in San Francisco, were also axed.
The cuts were made for efficiencies, and Kassan noted Western has implemented technological and other tactical methods of streamlining its business. "It's not 'Sunday, bloody Sunday,' but we have done a reorganization in our account services and other areas," he said. "We're looking to consolidate some of our smaller offices," which is ongoing policy.
Kassan also said several staffers hired to prepare for 2000 were sacked.
Western has closed its Cincinnati, Washington, D.C., Kansas City, Mo., and Orange County, Calif., units, and downsized Seattle, San Francisco and Miami.
Several employees in recent weeks have resigned in frustration at the cuts, sources said. Some former staffers said it appears Los Angeles-based Western is shifting focus to New York, where parent Interpublic Group of Cos. is also based, and point to the recent move of strategic planning and research head Cheryl Idell from L.A. to New York as an example.
Separately, Kassan is said to be talking to candidates about a senior-level post beneath him, sources said. One is Mike Lotito, former media chief at sister IPG agency Ammirati Puris Lintas, sources said. Lotito had also been director of client services. Lotito did not return calls; Kassan declined comment. --with John Consoli