Executive Shakeup at DDB as New York Office Cuts 3 C-Suite Positions

By Patrick Coffee 

Last week, DDB’s New York office went through a round of top-level layoffs as part of a realignment intended to create greater cohesion with its Chicago and San Francisco teams as well as sister company Tribal Worldwide, according to multiple parties close to the matter who spoke on condition of anonymity.

In the latest iteration of that shift, the New York team laid off its chief marketing officer, chief financial officer and creative technology officer in addition to an ECD and at least two more staffers in the creative and production departments.

New York also made several hires in recent weeks: GCDs Ani Munoz and Katie Jensen joined from Grey, and Susie Lyons, formerly with Lifetime Networks and 180LA, recently came on as strategy chief.

The news comes as DDB Chicago takes a more assertive role in the network. Paul Gunning, who had been CEO of that office after running Tribal Worldwide for more than 5 years, was quietly promoted to the new position of U.S. president and COO this summer.

CEO Chris Brown is now reportedly the only C-suite executive unique to New York, and the agency does not appear to have plans to replace the executives it let go. An individual close to Omnicom said the roles were considered redundant and that related responsibilities would now be handled by executives in Chicago.

One employee said Gunning gave a presentation to all staff on the New York office’s eighth floor in September explaining his plan to allow the different teams, along with Tribal Worldwide, to work more closely together while retaining their individual identities.

According to this party, each company will remain autonomous, but there will be more room for crossover on assorted projects. So the teams in New York or San Francisco can now theoretically pitch as 400 people instead of 80.

The organization as a whole aims to be more streamlined and efficient, hence the redundancies. This approach is very much in keeping with the “DDB flex” model behind dedicated McDonald’s agency We Are Unlimited.

In another example of consolidation in action, DDB Chicago just relocated to a new headquarters at 225 N. Michigan Avenue as Omnicom, like Publicis before it, moves to establish single hubs in its major centers of operation. It was the last agency to set up shop in this building after operating out of the Aon Center for many years.

According to a holding company spokesperson who talked to Chicago Business Journal, the new arrangement “allows for more collaboration” and “creates more operating efficiencies.”

None of the affected executives in New York responded to LinkedIn messages, and an agency spokesperson declined to comment.

DDB is currently leading the Omnicom pitches for both VW and the U.S. Army.

[Pic via Glassdoor]