Saatchi Closes Doors in Bay Area

Saatchi & Saatchi’s decision last week to close its San Francisco office will displace 50-60 workers and further erode confidence in the ad market here, executives said.

The decision to shutter the office came after weeks of speculation. It will officially close Aug. 1. It is the third to close in San Francisco recently, following Lowe Lintas & Partners and Leo Burnett Technology Group’s outposts.

The agency has been hit by the economic downturn, losing major account Informix when it was folded into IBM this year. The agency plans to move the office’s Old Spice business to New York or Los Angeles.

“It’s sobering when two national holding companies decide to shut their San Francisco offices,” said one senior executive at a San Francisco shop. “However, I don’t know if there is too much concern because there are three fewer shops to deal with.”

The outpost did appear to have a succession plan in place. Julie Bauer, former head of the office, was named to a managing partnership that covers Saatchi offices in New York, Northern California and Canada. Bauer will remain in New York. She was succeeded by account director Durk Barnhill, who headed the office’s new-business efforts and day-to-day operations since February.

It could not be determined what would happen to Barnhill and other senior staff when the office closes. Saatchi officials have said they would try to find room for them with other Saatchi and Publicis offices.