Staffing Cuts at DDB Chicago

By Patrick Coffee 


We don’t have much in the way of specific details, but we can confirm a tip we received this afternoon: a round of layoffs occurred at DDB Chicago today.

We hear that 2-3 percent of the agency’s Windy City workforce received the equivalent of the “pink slip” this afternoon; given the size of DDB’s Chicago office, that puts the total on the low end of the 15-30 employee range.

There’s no word on which departments were hardest hit, but we do have some clues: the unfortunate changes came about due to two large clients, and the news does not come as a complete surprise in either case.

The first is McDonald’s, which assigned its forthcoming rebranding campaign to Leo Burnett more than six weeks ago. London veteran ECD Tony Malcolm assumed creative leadership of the larger account in January, so chances are high that some members of his team, which included 30 creative staffers, are no longer with the agency.

The other client is Safeway. Investment firm Cerberus acquired the company back in March for $9B, but the firm’s plans to merge the chain with existing client Albertson’s were not finalized until two months ago when investorsĀ voted “overwhelmingly” to approve the deal. Coincidentally, the move became official at approximately the same time that Burnett won the golden arches.

What’s not clear is the status of the Safeway account. The company hasn’t made any agency-related announcements since assigning more work to DDB in March 2013 mere weeks after predicting the end of print advertising and singing the praises of…digital coupons.

John Maxham, who joined DDB as CCO in January two weeks after Malcolm, plays lead on both accounts.

Updates as we receive them.