LVL Communications Leaves Santa Monica

As it prepares to become a public company, LVL Communications has closed its 2-year-old Santa Monica, Calif., office.
The office’s five employees declined to relocate to LVL’s main office in Palo Alto, Calif., and were laid off.
“Investors want us to better focus our efforts, and that means consolidating all operations in Palo Alto … as part of our restructuring program,” said agency chief executive officer Cal Lai. LVL, which specializes in interactive and traditional marketing for technology clients, announced late last year its plans to merge with a public “shell” company [Adweek, Dec. 8].
The Southern California office, headed by former Ogilvy & Mather executive Gina Kida, was opened to handle tech-oriented assignments for clients in the entertainment industry. Initially it picked up projects from DirectTV and Toshiba and small assignments from film studios. But it failed to attract the kind of interactive entertainment accounts that agency managers had envisioned, sources said.
LVL’s restructuring program, which also included several layoffs in the main office last month, will be completed in about 45 days, Lai said. The agency’s staff has shrunk from 50 to about 25 people, sources said. Among the recent departures was executive vice president Steve Souza, who resigned after 12 years at the shop.
Following a period of financial struggles that affected employee benefits, LVL has received more than half of its first round of $1 million in investment. That money is being used to fund the agency’s current operations, Lai said, and the second round of investment, due in June, will fund expansion. LVL is slated to go public within 90 days, he said.