Staffing Changes Follow Verizon Loss at Erwin Penland

By Patrick Coffee 

Erwin Penland

Last month, we learned that the latest step in Verizon’s rearrangement of its extensive agency roster after signing Wieden+Kennedy for creative/strategy work involved a further round of consolidation.

To be more specific, the company chose to shift “most” of its sponsorship/entertainment account to New York’s Momentum Worldwide. At the time, we did not know which of the four other agencies working on the account (Erwin Penland, mcgarrybowen, Marketing Werks, and Wasserman Media Group) would lose business as a result of the decision.

Today, however, Erwin Penland did have to lay off a mix of staffers across its New York and South Carolina offices as a direct result of the change.

CMO and Chief Client Officer Joe Saracino told us that the agency, which had retained the business for more than five years and collaborated on projects like Verizon’s NFL work, had no choice but to let some of those who’d been on the business go in part because the Verizon work required a particularly unique skill set that did not apply to work for other clients.

In total, approximately 18 employees will work on other accounts and around two dozen were laid off. We’re told that the total included several members of EP’s New York-based creative department.

This shift is both similar to and different than a December event in which EP had to lay off 15-20 staffers across its offices. That move, however, was not related to any specific account but to another, increasingly familiar story: “changes in client demands as businesses place greater emphasis on digital, social and other less-traditional services.”

Regarding the previous change, longtime McCann/Ogilvy veteran Chris Quillen (who himself worked on the Verizon account when it was with McCann) was one of those who left Erwin Penland at the end of 2014. We didn’t receive information on any particular individuals today, though EP hired two new creative directors last October to work specifically on the Verizon and Denny’s accounts.

On a different note, EP has been hiring in recent months as well, and Saracino attributes the fact that its net head count is up in 2015 to that very same aforementioned growth in digital, social, and mobile-focused services. The agency is also moving forward with plans to build a newly expanded headquarters that will “change the downtown skyline” in Greenville, South Carolina.

No word at the moment on how Verizon’s decision affected the other agencies working on its sponsorship business.