BBDO Will Shutter Houston Operation

DALLAS—BBDO will close its 17-person Houston office next month. The agency’s North American president and CEO, Andrew Robertson, said in a statement that the location, which was opened in 1997 to service the agency’s Texaco account, has not been able to replace the loss of key pieces of that business that were transferred to other shops when Chevron acquired Texaco last year. The Houston outpost recently completed a pitch for ChevronTexaco’s estimated $50 million global account. A decision is pending in the review; it could not immediately be determined which BBDO office would service the account if the agency won it. The Pizza Hut radio assignment handled by the Houston site will transfer to New York, the Omnicom agency said.

JWT to Handle Additional Shell Chemical Unit

DALLAS—WPP’s J. Walter Thompson will pick up the ad account of Shell Chemical’s polymers group upon the closure of incumbent BBDO’s Houston office next month, according to a client representative. JWT in Houston currently handles the accounts of the client’s six other groups. Rufus Leonard, a London-based design agency, will handle interactive duties for the polymers business. Media expenditures for Shell Chemical were $500,000 in 2001, per CMR. The London-based client comprises all of the chemical companies owned by parent Royal Dutch/Shell Group.

Targetbase, BIG Reduce Staff Personnel

DALLAS—Targetbase, an Omnicom direct-marketing agency, cut 41 employees, or about 14 percent of its staff, sources said. Executives of the Irving, Texas, shop could not be reached for comment. Separately, independent agency BIG of San Antonio trimmed its workforce by 10 staffers, or 29 percent. The layoffs were due to a reduction in work for its largest account, Mark Nutritionals’ Body Solutions, according to agency representative Ken Slavin. He said the client’s cash flow has been “severely slowed” since it began selling through a retail network, rather than from a call center where consumers bought the diet product via telephone. The San Antonio client is also facing lawsuits from consumers who dispute the product’s claims.

PS&L’s Hispanic Spot Gets General Play

DALLAS—A television commercial created for Pennzoil motor oil by Publicis Sanchez & Levitan for Hispanic consumers breaks nationally in the general market today. The launch marks the first time the Houston client has used an ad created for a specialized segment to target the general population. “We found in our testing that [the ad] was highly impactful, and we think it will create a lot of buzz,” said Tami Talbert, director of Pennzoil brand management. The Dallas shop’s English-language ad opens with an older man shaking a bottle of Viagra-like pills and smiling at his blushing wife. The spot then cuts to the man shaking a container of Pennzoil and smiling at his old car. The voiceover describes the product as “specially formulated for the needs of your older, wiser vehicle.” Omnicom’s GSD&M of Austin, Texas, is the client’s general-market agency. The spot will run on broadcast and cable channels through December.