Mullen Cuts Back at Wenham H.Q.

BOSTON–Mullen on Monday cut 13 people, or four percent of its staff at the agency’s Wenham, Mass., headquarters.

The agency cited the continued slow economy and said no individual client loss or budget reduction prompted the move.

The across-the-board reduction represents the first announced layoff this year in Wenham, said agency representative Brooke Smith. Sources said the shop has quietly let at least a dozen staffers go since the year began.

Mullen in the spring had cut 30 people, roughly 20 percent of the staff, at its Winston-Salem, N.C., affiliate, Mullen/LHC. That unit last week named New York agency veteran John Fitzgerald president and chief operating officer, and, in doing so, filled a vacant position.

All told, the agency, a unit of the Interpublic Group of Cos. continues to employ nearly 330 people in Wenham and 535 nationwide.

Smith would not rule out more cuts if the agency’s fortunes do not improve.

The shop has fared poorly since its January IPG-prompted union with the former Long Haymes Carr in Winston Salem.

The Southern office has seen several clients depart, including Sara Lee’s Hanes, Thomasville Furniture and Alabama Power. In Wenham, no major clients have left in 2001, but an expected $20-25 million campaign from software company Mangosoft never materialized and new-business efforts have been particularly slow.

Mullen was the last major New England-based agency to have an announced layoff. Boston’s Arnold, a unit of Havas Advertising, last week cut 30-40 people nationwide, about three percent of its staff and has said it will close its 18-person Cipriani Kremer Design unit by year’s end.

Hill, Holliday, Connors, Cosmopulos, also an IPG agency, has cut about 100 employees this year, and independent Digitas has slashed about 200 employees since the year began.