Mad Dogs on the Brink of Closure

NEW YORK Mad Dogs & Englishmen, the boutique agency founded by managing partners Robin Hafitz and Nick Cohen, is “up against the wall,” Cohen said last week, following spending cuts by its largest client, Atkins Nutritionals.

Atkins spent about $30 million on advertising last year, according to Nielsen Monitor-Plus, but has not committed to a 2005 budget, Cohen said.

The New York agency will close its San Francisco office and has told its landlord to put its space here on the market.

The shop has trimmed nearly 10 staffers—about 28 percent of its workforce—during the past few months, said Cohen. Management has also been encouraging staffers to take other job opportunities, as the future of the shop is murky at best, he said.

The New York office’s 25 staffers now service Atkins, sports clothing line CW-X and Grand Marnier, among others. Accounts that were at the San Francisco location, such as Coco Pete, will now move to the New York office, as will Cohen.

“We’re trying to figure out how we can continue based on the business that we have,” Cohen said.

The agency had been talking with interested parties regarding a merger several months ago, but those talks ultimately went nowhere, Cohen said. The idea was to integrate Mad Dogs with a larger firm that could offer its clients a richer array of services, he said.

“The boutique model has changed a little bit,” Cohen said. “These days in order to do a really great job for a client you need to be able to offer quite a lot of support.”

The agency is also considering the future of Mad Logic, Hafitz’s brand planning operation, and Mad Injection, a spin-off venture that handles projects and is led by Mikal Reich, Cohen said.