We Hear: Naked Communications to Close Its New York Office After Losing Virgin Atlantic

By Patrick Coffee Comment

Over the past month, a string of parties have told us that Naked Communications will soon close its New York office after more than 10 years.

The agency, which is owned by Australian network Enero Group, initially focused on communications strategy but also moved into creative agency turf and employed executives and CDs from such shops as KBS, TBWA\Chiat\Day, Wieden+Kennedy and more.

The news follows a November 2016 decision by Virgin Atlantic to end its relationship with Naked and take all related services in-house. A release from the parent company stated that Virgin provided 7 percent of the entire Enero Group’s net revenue as of this past June. At the time the decision broke, Campaign noted that Naked had beaten Omnicom’s RAPP in a 2013 review for global digital/CRM duties on the account and that onetime client Mars Petcare had also moved its social media work in-house earlier in the year.

According to sources with direct knowledge of the matter, Virgin was Naked New York’s last remaining client. The same sources claim that the shop officially let all of its employees go with the exception of a core team that will service the Virgin account until its contract ends in March 2017 and that the entire Naked New York operation will eventually be folded into another Enero Group unit. It is unclear at this time how many employees were let go last month, but one source claims that they did not receive severance packages or expense payments.

Naked Communications was founded as a small, startup-style unit in London in 2000, proceeding to “[shake] up the agency world in the U.K. and elsewhere” before opening its New York office in 2005 and later establishing another location in Minneapolis. According to its web pages, it currently has additional offices in Tokyo, Melbourne and Sydney and employs between 200 and 500 around the world. (Australia’s Photon, which later became Enero, acquired Naked in 2008 for a reported $20 million.)

The shop hired R/GA VP Troy Kelley as CEO and officially moved into creative agency turf in 2014, later naming W+K/Y&R/GS&P veteran Adrien Bindi to be its first-ever creative director right before the last remaining co-founder Neal Davies left to run the Effie Awards. Former KBS co-CCO Izzy DeBellis accepted the newly created chief creative and strategy officer role several months later but left in summer 2016 to co-launch Louder Communications, a combination agency/consultancy led by former Naked managing director of the Americas Shantanu Rana.

We have repeatedly reached out to Naked Communications, its parent company Enero Group, and some of its former employees over the past three weeks. Agency representatives had not responded at the time this post went live, and no one was available at the New York office.

Enero Group’s roster primarily includes European communications firms like Frank PR and Hotwire PR in addition to Australian creative shop BMF.

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