Struggling Tatham Plans Round of Layoffs

More layoffs are expected this week at Havas’ Euro RSCG Tatham Partners, with senior executives expected to be among those let go from the struggling agency, sources said.

The Chicago shop is down to an estimated $240 million, with the $100 million Red Lobster account in review. The layoffs this week are expected to at least match the 10 percent that were let go in January, which left the ad agency with about 85 employees, sources said.

Euro RSCG Worldwide CEO Jim Heekin met with Tatham executives in mid-February and assured them of the company’s commitment to keeping an advertising practice in Chicago.

That has become an iffy proposition as the shop has continued to bleed clients. Last week, Sara Lee moved its $20 million Hillshire Farm account to Omnicom’s Element 79 Partners. In January, the shop lost its $45 million Alberto Culver account. And the odds appear stacked against Tatham keeping Red Lobster, which is being pitched by Grey Global Group’s Grey New York and The Richards Group in Dallas.

Tatham CEO Gary Epstein tried to rebuild the shop following the early 1999 loss of its cornerstone P&G business. Tatham acquired boutique McConnaughy Stein Schmidt Brown in 2000 in an attempt to remake the agency as a creative hot shop.

But the agency’s brand remained unclear to new-business prospects, sources said. Chief creative Jim Schmidt, who was unable to transfer MSSB’s reputation to Tatham, quit the agency in January.

Sources said Epstein is under fire, as is Tatham president Denis Glennon. Epstein and Glennon declined comment; Heekin could not be reached.

Euro RSCG Worldwide is expected to rebrand Tatham and New York’s Euro RSCG MVBMS Partners, under the Euro RSCG banner this month.