TN Technologies, a unit of True North Communications, removed General Manager David Clauson from day-to-day responsibilities for the Levi Strauss interactive business and reassigned him. The office also cut three of 17 positions.
JUST PRODUCTION, DESIGN
Under the new structure, the office will handle only production and design work for Levi Strauss.
"We got out of sync" with the client, said Gregory Blaine, chairman-CEO of Chicago-based TN Technologies.
Levi Strauss has a sizable in-house interactive staff and doesn't require a full-service interactive agency. It wants to use TN Technologies as a production resource.
Associate Creative Director Martin Lauber and Executive Producer Colin Cook were named acting managing directors of the office in the restructuring.
Mr. Clauson could not be reached for comment at press time, but Levi Strauss Senior Manager-Digital Marketing Jay Thomas said, "I wouldn't say the account was in jeopardy."
RUMORS OF PROBLEMS
Rumors had circulated in the San Francisco agency community that TN Technologies' hold on the business was weakening. Levi Strauss recently assigned Miller/Kadanoff a direct marketing project that's believed to include some interactive elements.
The restructuring effectively turns the San Francisco TN office into a service bureau for Levi Strauss, which is by far its largest client. It maintains a small relationship with search engine Excite, a client of sister agency Foote, Cone & Belding, San Francisco, but Asia-focused projects for two other clients-AT&T Corp. and L'Oreal-will now be managed out of the Hong Kong office, Mr. Blaine said.
TN Technologies handled the launch last weekend of Levi Strauss' new Web site.
ANOTHER STUMBLING BLOCK
For Mr. Blaine and TN Technologies, the turmoil in the San Francisco office is yet another stumbling block. TN Technologies is the largest interactive agency in the country, generating about 76% of its $38 million in 1996 revenue from interactive work.
San Francisco is the second TN Technologies office to experience turmoil in recent months. Five staffers working in the Chicago office have left since the start of the year, including the managing director.
MESHING DISPARATE UNITS
TN Technologies is still struggling to mesh its disparate units into a cohesive company.
When the holding company was formed after the acquisition of Modem Media last year, it announced plans to organize along three separate business lines: agency work, led by Modem Media and TN Technologies' Northern Lights Interactive; creative and design, led by R/GA Interactive; and technology, from a new unit dubbed Relationship Technology Group.
But getting the technology unit off the ground has been difficult, said G.M. O'Connell, TN Technologies president-chief operating officer.
TN Technologies also has put its initial public offering on hold until the market for tech stocks improves.