TBWA\C\D Mulls Lifeline for S.F.

SAN FRANCISCO — TBWA\Chiat\Day is leaning toward a plan that calls for downsizing its San Francisco operation into a creative-only operation that would service Adidas and a limited number of other accounts, sources said.

The plan being floated follows the office’s loss several weeks ago of the $60 million Levi’s business, a move that many believed would lead to the shuttering of the office.

But management is trying to work out a strategy that would leave a core team of creatives there to ensure a presence in Northern California. Some agencies question the wisdom of such a move, saying that the San Francisco ad market leaves few opportunities for growth these days.

However, a key reason behind the agency’s efforts to save the office rests with North American creative director Chuck McBride, who is attached to the Bay Area and would leave the agency before uprooting his family to the Southern California office in Playa del Rey, sources said.

Even if McBride were willing to move, sources said the agency sees advantages to having him and Lee Clow, its top creative, located in separate offices.

“The chances of staying open [in San Francisco] are pretty good, but we’ve got to get the [staff] numbers down so Omnicom will be happy,” said one executive.

Tom Carroll, president of the Americas at TBWA\C\D, said no decisions have been made and the fate of the office will likely be determined early this week.

As it stands, San Francisco handles Starz Encore Group’s $40 million account, the $5-10 million Wine Council account and a $1 million assignment for Callaway Golf. It has also worked on Sony PlayStation, but that account is expected to be transferred to Playa del Rey.

Playa del Rey has taken the lead on global creative for Adidas, but San Francisco is also involved, sources said.

If the office survives, staff cuts are inevitable. There have apparently been no reductions following the Levi’s loss, but roughly half of the shop’s 91 staffers worked on the account.