TATHAM CHICAGO CUTS 27 STAFFERS

Agency Has 'Every Intention of Rebuilding' CEO Says

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CHICAGO (AdAge.com) -- After suffering several client losses, Euro RSCG Tatham Partners yesterday laid off 27 staffers, including the agency's president and director of operations, according to people close to the agency.

Gary Epstein, CEO of the beleaguered

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Havas-owned agency, said the cuts affect less than 10% of the entire Chicago office. In February the office employed about 270 people. He wouldn't confirm specific posts eliminated, other than that of the agency's president, Denis Glennon, who will return to New York. Jane Melvin was the agency's director of operations and chief of staff.

Four resignations
Earlier this week another four staffers resigned, according to executives close to the agency.

Mr. Epstein said the cuts had no connection to recent client defections but rather to "right size" the agency to its profit and growth targets.

Afterward, Cynthia Pike-Fuentes, director of corporate communications, issued a statement denying that Mr. Epstein said cuts were not connected to recent client defections. She said, "In actuality, the cuts were due to recent client defections, but were not specific to any one account."

Last month, the agency lost its $20 million Sara Lee Corp.'s Hillshire Farms account, and it is defending the $80 million Red Lobster account.

Rebuilding
"We have every intention of rebuilding our advertising practice," Mr. Epstein said, adding that today was the first of three steps in that process. The agency has begun a search for key management posts, including a new creative chief to succeed Jim Schmidt, who resigned last month.

Several executives expressed doubts that the cuts have little to do with the Red Lobster cuts since "virtually all" of the account staff was let go in the layoff today, these executives said. "There can't be 15 people left in the advertising practice."

According to Mr. Epstein's figures, there were 85 people in the advertising practice, with at least half of that number being back-office staff, executives said. They estimated that remaining advertising staff comprised two full-time creatives and about four account staff, including Mr. Epstein and Chief Operating Officer Suzanne Lord.

Eliminating the name
Tatham's nearly 60-year-old name soon will be eliminated as the agency is renamed Euro RSCG Chicago.

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