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Duffy Direct ÔCleans HouseÕ After Loss

Duffy & Shanley last week vowed to rebuild its direct marketing division after losing its largest account and letting go all three of its staffers.
General manager David Sarlitto and account managers Monique diPadua and Jane Surette were discharged following the loss of client AMTS Firestone Tire & Service Centers in Chicago, agency executive vice president Bob Newbert confirmed.
Newbert added that personality conflicts between senior management and the direct division’s employees also played a role in the decision to cut staff. “We had a group of people not working well with the rest of the agency,” Newbert said. When AMTS Firestone withdrew its business, Duffy & Shanley management believed the time was right to “clean house and make a new beginning,” he said.
“There were a number of different issues . . . Firestone was the main factor,” Sarlitto said of the agency’s decision.
Duffy & Shanley is in the process of interviewing candidates to take over and rebuild the direct marketing division, Newbert said.
It was not clear at press time whether AMTS Firestone, handled by Duffy & Shanley’s direct marketing unit for the past several years, has pulled its account in-house or chosen to work with another agency.
The tension inside Duffy & Shanley over the dismissals can perhaps be gauged by a statement faxed last week from the shop to Adweek that announced the “closure” of the direct marketing division.
The missive contained direct quotes from diPadua, who was listed as a contact for more information. However, diPadua claimed she did not send or have any involvement in the fax. Officials at the Providence, R.I., agency said they doubted diPadua, who was not on-site last week, wrote the document.
Newbert strongly refuted the assertion that Duffy & Shanley has given up on direct marketing altogether, noting that the shop will continue to handle such assignments for the Providence Journal-Bulletin and the Rhode Island Economic Development Corp., which oversees the state’s tourism and business development efforts.
Duffy & Shanley’s overall billings have been hovering around the $30 million mark for the past couple of years, Newbert said. The agency, which along with RDW Group is among the largest in Providence, has about 25 employees, Newbert said.

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