BBDO North America to Terminate 189

Agency Lays Off 6%, Says Job Cuts Aren't About Chrysler

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NEW YORK ( -- BBDO North America said today it is eliminating 189 positions, or an estimated 6% of its work force. Ad Age reported last night that parent Omnicom Group would slash up to 5% of its global work force and that BBDO would be particularly affected.

A BBDO spokesman declined to comment on which of the 14 North American offices would be affected. Among BBDO North America's properties are BBDO, Organic, Proximity and Atmosphere BBDO.

The agency stressed that the reductions are not related to the dire situation faced by key client Chrysler, which is trying to wrangle a government bridge loan before it runs out of cash. (Omnicom is owed some $80 million by Chrysler, according to an earlier Ad Age report.)

In response to lost accounts
"Cuts that were made today were in response to some lost client accounts and reduced client activity," said the spokesman, who added, "Earlier in the year we made reductions in Detroit in response to reduced levels of activity for our Chrysler client." At that time BBDO Detroit cut 145 people, or 22% of its work force.

BBDO lost its U.S. business for the flagship Pepsi brand to Omnicom siblings TBWA/Chiat/Day and Arnell Group earlier this year. Today Ad Age is reporting that another key client, Best Buy, is planning to put the bulk of its focus on retail advertising rather than branding in the coming year. Branding is handled by BBDO, while Crispin Porter & Bogusky handles retail.

"People were notified [of the layoffs] beginning today," BBDO spokesman said. When asked about plans for additional staff cuts in 2009, he said, "None are planned."

Before today's cuts, BBDO Worldwide had more than 16,000 employees in 287 offices in 79 countries, according to Omnicom Group's website.

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