McKinney Lays Off 18% of Staff After Nationwide Loss

Shop Was Insurer's Agency for Seven Years

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McKinney has laid off about 18% of its staff in the wake of its Nationwide loss.

The layoffs at the Cheil-owned agency happened Wednesday and were split between the company's New York and Durham, N.C. offices. There were 34 full-time employees cut, leaving the shop with 155 people in total. Some of the 34 have already left; others will remain while the agency transitions out of the account over the next couple months.

Brad Brinegar
Brad Brinegar

Previous reports about the shedding of employees said one-third of the staff would be let go, but Brad Brinegar, chairman CEO of McKinney and CEO of North American operations for Cheil, denied that was true. "We're very proud of the work we did for Nationwide and the relationships we built," he said. "This falls unfortunately on a team that did great work and helped a client grow. We, along with Cheil, worked had to minimize the impact of the layoffs."

The loss was clearly a blow to the agency, which had been working with Nationwide for seven years and was responsible for the tagline "Join the nation," created in 2012 and still in use. Ogilvy also handles some work for the insurer, and while it would be natural for the marketer to move the entire account to Ogilvy, there is no firm indication that is the case.

Nationwide aired in last year's Super Bowl what quickly became an infamous ad created by Ogilvy featuring a dead child. After negative response to the ad, Chief Marketing Officer Matt Jauchius left the company and was replaced by company veteran Terrance Williams. Prior to his appointment as the new CMO, Mr. Williams was president and chief operating officer.

Nationwide spent $332 million on U.S. measured media in 2014, according to Kantar Media. In the first nine months of 2015, the company spent $213 million.

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