BBDO in Detroit to Cut 22% of Staff

Omnicom Group’s BBDO in Detroit has confirmed laying off 145 employees (roughly 22 percent of its staff), a response to deep spending cuts by Chrysler, the office’s flagship account.

The agency issued this statement on Thursday: “BBDO Detroit announced today that it is making staff reductions in response to reduced levels of activity by its key client, Chrysler. In all, 145 positions have been eliminated, with reductions being made across all functions driven by the reduced level of activity and changes in the nature of planned activities.”

Through the first nine months of 2008, ad spending on the Chrysler business handled by that office has dropped to less than $800 million, compared to almost $1.1 billion for the same period a year ago, per Nielsen Monitor-Plus. That’s a dip of about 30 percent. All told, Chrysler’s car and truck sales are down about 25 percent this year. The entire auto industry is reeling in the bad economy, and U.S. car sales are on pace to hit a 15-year low.

BBDO Detroit has almost all salient Chrysler and Dodge business, the notable exception being Jeep’s national creative assignment, which is handled by Omnicom’s Cutwater in San Francisco.

After the cuts — which impact all departments, including creative, planning, account management, IT and administrative services — about 510 staffers will remain at BBDO in Detroit. The cuts are being made “immediately,” the agency said.