Empower Cuts Staff by 22%

Empower MediaMarketing has laid off 22 percent of its work force following the loss of The Andrew Jergens Co. business.

The estimated $40 million media buying and planning account is now with TN Media, sister shop to Bozell, whose New York office handles creative for Jergens, the client confirmed last week.

Empower, which has handled the cosmetics and toiletries company since 1994, laid off 32 of its 147 staffers, said Brian McHale, president of the Cincinnati shop. “We had to reassign and restructure our staffing as a result of the loss,” he said.

Jergens, also based in Cincinnati, consolidated its advertising duties at TN to “enhance efficiencies,” said company representative Bill Daddi. He added that the decision to change shops did not indicate dissatisfaction with Empower.

“My understanding is that Jergens was happy with Empower’s work, and that the decision does not reflect anything more than keeping all advertising work at the same location,” Daddi said. True North officials would only confirm the move.

“We took a hit, but overall Jergens is not going to affect our relationship with our existing clients,” McHale said.

The loss reflects what many media buying shops are experiencing. “It is no secret the marketplace is soft and ad spending is down, McHale said.

Despite this trend, Empower increased its billings to $650 million in 2000, slightly above 1999. The shop also won seven new accounts last year, including A&W Restaurants, Celestial Sea son ings, Oxydol and Janus Mutual Funds.

Best known for its Bioré, Curel and Ban deodorant brands, Jer gens spent about $25 million promoting its brands in the first ten months of 2000 and about $40 million in 1999, according to Competitive Media Reporting.

Bozell has handled creative for Jergens’ skin-care brands since 1998. Earlier this year, Jergens awarded the shop creative duties on Bioré, a skin-care product primarily used to reduce blemishes. The account had been with Kirshenbaum Bond & Part ners in New York.