New Y&R President Cuts Jobs as Spending Drops

Only 30 days into his reign as president of Young & Rubicam here, Don Williams laid off 15 workers and eliminated five open positions in anticipation of further cutbacks in client spending.

Six employees were let go in May at the shop. Some of those laid off this time around were offered jobs within the WPP Group, Wil liams said. In total, the cuts have reduced the staff by about 16 percent.

The layoffs were agencywide, although, as part of an ongoing realignment, Williams eliminated the shop’s project management group.

Last month, Williams became the fourth president in five years at Y&R’s Dearborn, Mich., office. He resigned last spring as chief marketing officer at Champion Enterprises, the nation’s largest builder of prefabricated homes and a Y&R client.

Before his three-year run at the Auburn Hills, Mich.-based Champ ion, he was an executive at Y&R on Ford Motor Co.’s Lincoln Mercury account, which has since moved to the agency’s Irvine, Calif., office.

At Y&R, he replaced Laurie Null, who left in August to take the top job at the Irvine office of Wunderman, Y&R’s promotional unit.

Y&R Detroit has struggled to build a client base since the Lincoln Mercury account was moved to California in 1998. But Williams disputed ongoing rumors the office will close.

He said he intends for the office to be the hub of the Y&R network’s relationship marketing efforts for Ford in North America.

Before the account was moved to Y&R’s Irvine office, Ford represented 90 percent of the Detroit shop’s revenues. The cornerstone client re mains Ford, for which it handles promotions-related project work, as well as Lincoln Mercury Dealer Association business in the Midwest, Northeast, Southeast and Southwest.

While auto sales across the board have fallen due to economic uncertainty, Ford has been hard hit with a $692 million loss in the third quarter of 2001. Last year, the same quarter saw a profit of $888 million.