First Quarter Ends With Another Round of Layoffs

A flurry of job layoffs hit agencies last week, following another quarter of client spending reductions and account shifts.

Saatchi & Saatchi laid off about 10 staffers, or roughly 2 percent of its work force in New York, confirmed an agency representative, who described the move as “belt-tightening.” The layoffs affected several departments but no senior-level positions.

At Cliff Freeman and Partners in New York, five employees, representing about 5 percent of the agency’s work force, lost their jobs last Wednesday, the agency confirmed. “This round of layoffs is the final one,” said director of business development Charles Rosen. In November, the agency laid off about 10 people after it lost the $80 million Hardee’s account.

And at Tribal DDB in New York, 12 staffers—about 32 percent of the New York headquarters’ staff of 37—were let go. “Due to the overall soft economy in our industry and particularly in New York, we had to make cuts necessary to meet our current business projections for 2002,” a representative said. The layoffs coincide with the departure of Steven Marrs, president and chief operating officer of Tribal DDB North America. Marrs, who was unavailable for comment, is leaving to start a new venture. The representative said Matt Freeman, CEO of Tribal DDB North America, will assume Marrs’ duties. Separately, Tim McHale, chief media officer at Tribal DDB North America, resigned on Friday due to what he called “philosophical differences.”

In Boston, Pro Media cut 8 employees, or about 10-15 percent of the agency’s staff, said chief executive Nancy Ryan. Among those losing their jobs was Don Carlin, chief operating officer and one of Ryan’s top lieutenants. Pro Media lost buying chores for Staples’ $50 million account in January, but Ryan said this week’s cuts were not directly related. “Some clients just are not spending at the level that they were,” she said.