Double-Digit Departures at Publicis’ MRY as Agency Shifts Focus

By Patrick Coffee 

A significant number of layoffs hit Publicis’ MRY today, confirming tips we have been receiving throughout February and March.

An agency spokesperson writes:

“MRY has made some necessary adjustments to better align with our clients’ needs. With an eye to the future, we will build on the work we’re doing with our esteemed roster of brands and leverage our ‘new consumer’ value proposition and expertise to deliver for our clients.”


Sources with direct knowledge of the matter tell us that, several weeks before this round of downsizing hit, VISA announced plans to consolidate its digital and social media work with global creative AOR BBDO.

MRY experienced double-digit defections today in terms of both headcount and percentage of total staff across its offices. Most of the changes hit the Publicis agency’s New York headquarters, and we hear that all departments were involved. Earlier this month, tipsters told us at least 30 employees would leave and that the share of total staff affected was between 25 and 30 percent.

This news follows the departures of multiple executives including chief creative officer David Weinstock and ECD Leo Leone (with the latter going to Edelman Digital). The agency’s two business development executives–VP of global brand development Vishal Sapra and chief growth officer Evan Krautalso left earlier this month, as did MRY West managing director Kingsley Taylor and head of strategy Shauna Axton. Kraut is now managing director of Grey AdVentures in New York, but none of the other leaders appear to have left MRY for specific positions elsewhere.

We hear that the wave of departures mentioned above occurred in anticipation of today’s news.

According to additional sources, this development marks an unspecified shift in focus for MRY, which became part of Starcom MediaVest and merged with DigitasLBi in recent years but was left out of statements regarding Publicis Groupe’s most recent media-side restructuring/ consolidation along with fellow Publicis Media shop Moxie.

The agency will continue operating as before, though we hear that it will increase its focus on certain skill sets and reassign many of its remaining employees. The changes have come rapidly for MRY, which went for an extended period without any major attrition among its North American leadership.

MRY worked with VISA, which was its largest single client, for several years. Its most high-profile work for the company may have been a 2014 campaign that marked former NFL prospect Michael Sam’s debut as a spokesperson, and it also worked on such large-scale experiential projects as the 2014 #StartWeekending activation in New York’s Madison Square Park.

BBDO won the global business away from TBWA\Chiat\Day in a 2012 review. The Omnicom shop has had an on-and-off relationship with the financial giant, leading the account for 20 years before a 2005 review.

BBDO declined to comment for this post, and VISA’s PR department has not responded to multiple requests for an official statement over the past two weeks.