Thursday, January 10, 2008

Omnicom Group agencies cut staff

By Bill Shea At least two of the Omnicom Group agencies in Detroit that handle advertising work for Chrysler L.L.C. reduced staff Wednesday.

Troy-based BBDO Detroit reportedly cut about 75 employees, and an undetermined number were let go from PhD Detroit, also in Troy.

It’s also believed that Bloomfield Hills-based Organic Detroit, Chrysler’s digital agency and also an Omnicom company, would be cutting staff. Amanda Van Nuys, vice president of corporate marketing at Organic’s San Francisco headquarters, declined comment.

BBDO would not say how many staffers are being laid off in Detroit. The office, after staff reductions, will have 675 employees, said Roy Elvove, director of corporate communications for BBDO North America.

“The reduction primarily impacts administrative services,” he said. “We’re not disclosing the number of people involved.”

Two years ago, the Detroit office had an estimated 1,100 staffers. About 220 were let go in early 2006 when Chrysler engaged in a round of cost-cutting while it was still owned by Daimler.

The latest layoffs are limited to the Detroit office, Elvove said.

“It’s in response to changing industry needs and a desire on our part to improve cost efficiency and effectiveness,” he said.

Layoffs were also expected to happen Wednesday at PhD Detroit, the media buying and planning service for Chrysler that moved the automaker’s national TV buying to its New York office in October.

The office, which is shared with BBDO, has 150 employees, but PhD declined to say how many would be laid off, said Melanie Mitchem, PhD’s New York-based senior vice president and director of communications.

PhD had planned to reduce staff in Detroit because of redundancies between the office here and New York, which also has 150 employees, Mitchem said. That plan was in the works even before the change in Chrysler ownership but was accelerated because of staff reductions at BBDO.

Chrysler has been looking to trim costs since being acquired last year by venture capital firm Cerberus Capital Management L.P., including cutting 11,000 jobs this year. It expects to post a $1.6 billion loss in calendar 2007 and has predicted major improvements this year.

The automaker spent $586 million in measured media in the first nine months of 2007 for the Chrysler and Dodge brands, according to New York-based TNS Media Intelligence. Jeep was another $222 million in that period.

BBDO Detroit is a wholly owned subsidiary of BBDO Worldwide, which has nearly 300 offices in 77 different countries.

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