Campbell Ewald Detroit Downsizes After USAA Moves to MullenLowe San Antonio

By Patrick Coffee 

In what looks like the last chapter of the fallout over the “Ghetto Day” email controversy, the Detroit offices of Campbell Ewald went through a round of downsizing earlier this month and last month.

The move was directly related to the losses of U.S. Navy and USAA, which canceled its contract with Campbell Ewald right before parent company IPG fired C-E chief executive officer Jim Palmer. At the time, USAA told us that it would be “searching for a new agency that aligns with USAA’s culture and core values.”

That agency was MullenLowe, which opened a new San Antonio office to handle the business.


The official statement from a Campbell Ewald spokesperson:

“As part of a restructuring, we have had to lay off some of our staff. Though we worked to minimize layoffs we sadly could not forestall all. While headcount at the Los Angeles and New York offices has grown, the USAA dedicated office in San Antonio was obviously affected and the loss of the Navy account has contributed to some layoffs in Detroit.”

The Navy loss occurred almost exactly one year ago when the account went to Y&R, but the winning agency only recently began working on the business due to an ongoing series of appeals filed by Campbell Ewald lawyers. Last month Y&R announced plans to open a 50-person office in Memphis to handle the account after the dispute was resolved by the court system.

It’s unclear at this time exactly how many staffers were let go, though we hear that the layoffs began in April and continued through last week. We also hear that a few members of the team that handled USAA for Campbell Ewald have moved to MullenLowe to work on the business; according to our sources, the total number is in the single digits.

Very little information about MullenLowe San Antonio exists online, though the group’s website does currently include a blank listing under the URL “lowe-campbell-ewald-san-antonio.

The news follows the April promotions of Kevin Wertz to replace Palmer as CEO and Jo Shoesmith to replace outgoing chief creative officer Mark Simon as Campbell Ewald’s first-ever female CCO. In an internal memo, Wertz called the promotions “a new chapter in Campbell Ewald’s history.”

We reached out to MullenLowe for more information on USAA and the San Antonio office but have yet to receive a response.