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Martin Loses Columbia/HCA, Lays Off Staffers
ATLANTA–The Martin Agency in Richmond, Va., last week suffered its largest staff reduction “in recent history,” agency president Mike Hughes confirmed, after client Columbia/HCA Healthcare Corp. decided to halt its national advertising. The Nashville, Tenn.-based client–currently under federal investigation for allegedly improperly billing government health programs–spent $30 million on advertising in 1996, according to Competitive Media Reporting. The Martin Agency would not reveal how many of its 467 employees were let go, but said the number was “closer” to 50 than a locally reported figure of 100. As an incentive for agencies to hire its laid-off staffers by Sept. 30, Martin pledged to pony up half the ex-employees’ first month’s salaries.

Starbucks Coffee Seeks Regional Help
ATLANTA–Starbucks Coffee Co., through Select Resources International in Los Angeles, is conducting an agency review for a regional advertising assignment. A Select Resources official said Atlanta agencies are likely to get considerable attention since the Southeast is a prime market for the Seattle-based company. The agency will handle local store promotions, some creative work and public relations. The budget is estimated at less than $1 million. The review does not affect Starbucks’ relationship with Goodby, Silverstein & Partners in San Francisco.

Rockett, Burkhead Recruits New President
ATLANTA–Rockett, Burkhead, Lewis & Winslow in Raleigh, N.C., has hired Bill Youngclaus as president. Youngclaus, 55, most recently was chief operating officer of Noble & Associates in Chicago. In addition, the agency promoted Scott Burkhead from president and chief operating officer to vice chairman, and executive vice president Lanny Bynum to chief operating officer. Howard Rockett remains chairman/ceo.

Walker Acquires Callaway in Memphis
ATLANTA–Walker & Associates, a $20 million advertising agency located in Memphis, Tenn., has acquired local shop The Callaway Group, which reports billings of $2.5 million.

Accounts Roundup
ATLANTA–Noven Pharmaceuticals has placed its advertising account with Turkel Schwartz & Partners in Miami. The shop’s first assignment will be for Noven’s DentiPatch, a dental anesthetic patch. Billings for the account were undisclosed. . .Media That Works in Cincinnati won the $2 million media business of the Biltmore Estate in Asheville, N.C. Price/McNabb in Charlotte, N.C., had handled the account as well as the creative portion, which went in-house. . . Coffeehouse operator and retailer Caribou Coffee in Minneapolis assigned its advertising account to Carmichael Lynch in Minneapolis after an account review. 360 in Atlanta was the incumbent agency.