Staffing Cuts Follow JCPenney Loss at Doner Detroit

By Patrick Coffee 

Doner’s Detroit office had to part ways with a group of employees today after former client JCPenney chose mcgarrybowen as its new creative agency of record.

An agency spokesperson writes:

“Today we made a number of staff reductions related to the loss of JCPenney. These actions are never easy, and this one is particularly tough given the profound impact our work had on this client’s business. As an agency and as individuals, we empathize with those affected and will support them in their efforts to find new employment. At the same time, we continue to support, grow and add to the talent aligned with our current client work and with the significant opportunities ahead of us.”


We hear that the move affected approximately 10 percent of Doner Detroit’s total staff across all departments; sources did not provide details regarding its effects on the office’s creative team.

The quote above reflects president/co-CEO David Demuth’s internal memo following the JCP decision. In that note, he defended his agency’s work on the account, writing that the client had achieved “six quarters of same-store sales growth, reversing the nine consecutive quarters of sales decreases” during Doner’s tenure and that the agency also created “the top-rated campaign on the 2014 Oscars broadcast.”

Two years ago in October 2013, JCPenney named Doner as one of its three new agencies along with EVB and Victors & Spoils. This move followed Y&R’s unusually brief six-month role as the shop that helped JCP overcome the stormy tenure of former Apple executive Ron Johnson, who was pushed out after making some controversial decisions that did not seem to benefit the retailer.

Doner Detroit made several staffing moves in recent months, hiring Translation veteran Marcus Collins as its head of social engagement in August and nabbing former Leo Burnett ECD Steve Silver in June for the EVP/ECD role. (He replaced Chad Ackley, who held the same position before departing in May.) The agency also announced this summer that it would be closing its Atlanta office and moving all related operations to the Motor City.

We hear that, while Doner Detroit does not have any hiring news to announce at this time, it may soon be promoting some new business wins.