Townhouse, the production unit of Grey that officially launched in late 2016, went through a round of layoffs this week; around ten employees were affected.
A Grey representative confirmed that the company had parted with a small number of employees, but declined to elaborate further. Our sources claim that the move is in keeping with budget cuts by unspecified clients.
Townhouse first appeared on our radar in early 2016 when the Screen Actors Guild’s issued a complaint alleging that Grey cast non-union actors in its ads and used “Townhouse 23,” as it was then known, to get around the conditions in SAG-AFTRA Commercials Contracts.
The entity continued handling work, with WPP later naming Kristen Martini as Townhouse’s first CEO in November of 2016, with president Bennett McCarroll reporting to her. (In keeping with our spies, he resigned less than a year later to accept a job as co-director of video production at, you guessed it, Apple.)
At the time of Martini’s appointment, WPP explained that Townhouse would offer additional client services in addition to production, while primarily servicing Grey accounts such as P&G. Townhouse has about 200 employees.
The news comes at a time when clients are increasingly moving production duties in-house while agencies try to offer their own such services in the interest of keeping a greater share of the work. Unilever claimed to have save 30% on production costs in 2017 by doing just that, but the matter of whether they really did that, or whether they still relied heavily on WPP for work in that capacity, depends on who you ask.
Patrick Coffee contributed reporting to this story.