Hal Riney & Partners is about to put into place a reorganization of the creative department that will see one of the shop’s original partners removed from his creative assignments." data-categories = "" data-popup = "" data-ads = "Yes" data-company = "[]" data-outstream = "yes" data-auth = "" >

The Big Chill By Daniel S. Levin

Hal Riney & Partners is about to put into place a reorganization of the creative department that will see one of the shop’s original partners removed from his creative assignments.

Amidst other changes, HRP confirmed that Bruce Campbell, senior vp/creative director, will no longer have responsibility for audio and video retailer The Good Guys, which spent $32.1 million in 1992, and the Public Broadcasting System, which spent $1.4 million according to Leading National Advertisers. Instead, he will be assigned work on a project basis, according to agency president Tony Houghton, who declined additional comment on the reorganization.
News of the reorganization, which HRP expects will be completed this week, came on the heels of the S.F. agency’s first major win in over a year. Last week HRP beat out incumbent Baum, Arensmeier & Talent/Denver and GSD&M/Austin, Texas, for the QualMed Inc. account, a managed health care company based in Pueblo, Colo. The account is expected to bill $4 million in the first year and $10 million in the second. Still, sources inside the shop and former employees said the mood at the agency has been somber.
‘It’s been tough for us,’ said Houghton. ‘People are wary of an agency in transition. We need to be perceived as being on the move.’
Former Riney employees viewed news of Campbell’s changing role as ‘a classic Riney freeze-out,’ as one said, and a continuation of the purging of older Riney staff members under the new management team that began earlier this year when Carol Lee Kelliher, senior vp/director of creative services, was let go. It seems ‘the radar’s locked on his backside,’ said one observer of Campbell’s predicament in the agency.
But Houghton denied the move was intended to push Campbell out and said the intention is to use him in the way the agency currently uses copywriter Paul Mimiaga, who is moved from account to account as needed. ‘There’s no suggestion of freezing Bruce out,’ said Houghton.
In part, Houghton concedes, the problem is that Riney staffers have never had the constraints typically imposed by large agencies.
Free-spending creatives who grew accustomed to first-class travel, the best hotels and limousines are now finding agency belt tightening has led to scrutiny of travel plans. Previously such expenses were not closely monitored at the agency.
‘Too many people travel to too many meetings,’ said Houghton. ‘People just went where they wanted. We’re doing the obvious things like travel authorization.’
Still, sources close to the agency said while Houghton’s more fiscally conservative approach is being reluctantly accepted as necessary and good for the long-term health of the agency, staffers remain unenthusiastic about Houghton and his management style.
‘He’s not a charismatic rainmaker,’ said one former employee. ‘He’s a cost cutter.’
The upcoming changes, coupled with a round of layoffs last month, have fueled rumors and speculation about the future of several key senior members of the firm, who, some have said, are in talks with other agencies or contemplating starting an agency of their own. Several sources said senior vp/creative director Jerry Andelin was deeply upset when his partner Greg Wilson fell victim to the layoffs, something about which Andelin was neither consulted or given advance warning.
Andelin and Campbell denied reports that they might leave. ‘What’s good for this agency is good for me,’ Campbell said.
Both Houghton and national creative director Joe O’Neill arrived at HRP in January, Houghton from Leo Burnett/Toronto, where he’d been chairman/ceo and chief creative officer; and O’Neill from Riney’s N.Y. office.
Copyright Adweek L.P. (1993)