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We Hear…

We Hear: What is Going on at Razorfish? (Updated)

Razorfish hasn’t been the most communicative as of late, but we’re checking in on this as we’ve received multiple tips from various sources that the agency cut staff in it the central/SE region, specifically offices in Chicago, Austin and Atlanta. While we await some sort of comment/clarification, our spies tell us that approximately 25 staffers were affected across departments including some VPs. We’re hearing a certain major digital account loss in recent weeks might be to blame, but we’ll of course update as soon as we hear more. Stay tuned.

Update: Asked and received. Here’s a statement from Razorfish that maybe clarifies things: “As with all successful professional services organizations, we regularly adjust our staff levels and skills mix to align with current client needs. In keeping with that strategy, we did have to adjust staff levels in a few of our offices, which totals less than 2% of our North American staff. We will, however, continue to bring new talent and new capabilities into the agency to ensure we exceed client expectations.”

We Hear: KSL Media Shutters Ops? (Updated: Yes)

We’ve been deluged with tips over the last 12 hours that bi-coastal agency KSL Media, shut the doors of all of its offices including the main operations in NY and LA. Perhaps the writing was on the wall as last we heard from KSL, which was just a couple of weeks ago, CEO Hank Cohen and president David Sklaver both left the agency. Calls to the NY office this morning were left with an automated message that “your call cannot be completed as dialed.” Hmm. From what we gather via the tips we’ve received, KSL has declared bankruptcy and from what those on the Spy line say, “all employees terminated with no severance.” KSL was founded over 30 years ago and worked with clients including UGG and Guitar Center during the span. We’ll keep you posted if we find out more.

Update: Yes, sources familiar with the matter tell us that the decision was made yesterday to close their doors.

-Update 2: Here is the Chapter 11 announce that KSL is bankrupt. We’re hearing that certain issues with a higher-up may have had something to do with it.  link

We Hear: BNY Mellon Launches Review?

Well, when a client “declines to comment,” one starts to wonder, but anyways, multiple sources have told us that Bank of New York Mellon “is going to put [its] entire account into review” according to folks on the Spy line. The BNY Mellon global creative biz has been handled by fellow Big Apple-based operation Doremus since fall 2011. From what we’ve been told, Doremus has “declined” to continue serving as global AOR on the BNY Mellon business, which at the time called for the agency to integrate the brand’s TV, print and digital advertising in the Americas, Europe, Middle East, Africa and Asia-Pacific.

We Hear: Did Erwin Penland Nab CIT Duties?

Ah yes, we relish the thrill of the chase, especially when even the client has “no comment” on the matter. But yes, as we delve further into the rabbit hole, multiple tipsters, sources and the like have told us over the last 24 hours that Erwin Penland has nabbed creative AOR duties for CIT, the 125-year-old, NY/NJ-based financial institution focused on small business and middle market companies. Yes, it’s that sexy. Anyhow, CIT has worked in the past with the likes of Mobile, AL-based Red Square Agency and NYC-based B2B shop, Desantis Breindel.

Folks on the Spy line tell us that following a review, Erwin Penland won AOR duties for CIT, including digital, branding, and retail. If it’s official, that would mark the second notable win for the Greenville, SC-based agency, which took over on sole ad duties for Denny’s last month. We’ll keep you posted if and when we hear more.

We Hear: What’s Going on at West Studios?

We first inquired about this two weeks ago when the tips came in and have yet to hear back, but there seem to have been some notable defections in recent times from West Studios. If the name doesn’t ring a bell, West is the San Francisco-based shop that was launched two years ago by former Apple global marketing communications head, Allison Johnson, and was initially co-funded by Twitter co-founder, Jack Dorsey (we’re being told that Dorsey has since distanced himself from the company). During its initial launch, West was headed up by Johnson, former Martin Agency GCD Keith Cartwright and Katalyst digital head, Sarah Ross.

Well, as tipsters have pointed out, the latter two are no longer at West and in fact Cartwright doesn’t even acknowledge his time at the operation on their LinkedIn profiles. Of course, these aren’t the only notable departures from the SF shop in recent months. Travis Britton, former Cutwater principal/ECD who joined West as chief experience officer last year, has parted ways as has COO, Amanda Kelso (former W+K ECD Todd Waterbury was also in the mix but is now of course serving in the same role at Target). And today, we’re hearing that a major client is on the outs with the shop. We’re putting in more inquiries to the rather secretive West Studios, and will try to clarify what the state of the union is as soon as we hear more.

We Hear: BBDO Wins Viagra? (Updated: Yes, Now with Statement)

It looks like we’re in the same boat as Adweek on this one as BBDO has declined to comment and has referred all inquiries to Pfizer, which of course has yet to respond. But from what the tipsters have been telling for the last hour or so, the agency has nabbed the Viagra account from McGarryBowen, which has handled ad duties for Pfizer’s erectile dysfunction drug since the fall of 2009. We’re following up once again with Pfizer and will let you know, but if it’s all legit, this would be BBDO’s third account win in a month following Emirates and the ING New York City Marathon. Perhaps the Gillette loss is quickly becoming a distant memory after all.

Update: By now, you’re probably all well aware of the BBDO/Viagra partnership, and though it took a while, Pfizer has sent over this statement regarding its agency move:

“In Pfizer’s ongoing effort to seek improved operating effectiveness and efficiency, we investigated strategies to consolidate our Marketing Agency supply base across the product portfolio.  After an objective and thorough assessment of operating models and supplier capability, Pfizer consolidated our brand marketing agency activity into three global holding companies: WPP, Omnicom, and Publicis.

mcgarrybowen (MB) has been an exceptional agency partner and has helped us generate substantial awareness of Viagra and executed high-quality programs on behalf of the brand.  The decision to end our relationship with MB was only due to the Pfizer enterprise-wide agency consolidation. MB will remain on the business until the end of 2013. We value their creativity and partnership greatly.”

Hmm, So is Minneapolis Shop Atomic Still Open?

Voicemails and emails have all gone unanswered thus far, but from what folks on the Spy line are telling us, Minneapolis-based digital agency Atomic, formerly known as Atomic Playpen, has shuttered operations as of last Friday afternoon. We received a few tips about this including this one at the end of the day Friday: “…Minneapolis-based Atomic closed its doors at noon today and all employees were told they are out of jobs.” Yikes. If you were affected or know anything more, feel free to hit us up in tips.

Anyhow, last we recall, Atomic, when it still had the Playpen name intact, went through a little bit of a leadership shift last fall when co-founder Troy Venjohn bought out president/business partner Michael Kretsinger. The latter was eventually replaced by JWT Minneapolis (now Digitaria) alum Lydell Capritta at Atomic, which has worked with clients including Jack Link’s Beef Jerky and Xcel Energy.

 

We Hear: R/GA Portland Open for Business?

But why are they keeping it hush-hush if so? We called the agency for the digital age’s NYC hub and the person we spoke to didn’t have a contact number for the office and said she “didn’t think so” when asked if R/GA Portland had opened its doors. Hmm, well, for the last few days, we’ve been getting tips like this: “rga portland open for bizness. snatched up best creative from chicago office.” OK, perhaps the grammar doesn’t lend to its legitimacy, but the agency, which just took over for Razorfish on Samsung’s U.S. digital account, is officially hiring in the PDX and has been as far back as January.

Normally, R/GA’s PR folks are happy to send us announces boasting new office openings, which have happened quite often over the last year alone, but now they’ve been unusually unresponsive. Who knows, perhaps they’re formalizing things including staff and even the press release, but whatever the case, the office in Portlandia would be the 13th in the network. If anyone has a contact or knows who the R/GA Chicago creative is who headed to the Northwest, give us a shout in the tips box or at agencyspy at gmail dot com.

We Hear: Perez Out at Tribal Toronto?

Well, we’re awaiting some official confirmation on this, but we’ve received a few tips since over the last couple of hours that Tommy Perez, who just joined Tribal DDB Toronto as a creative director two-and-a-half months ago, has already parted ways with the agency. A couple of calls to the agency thus far this afternoon have been directed elsewhere. Perez was hired as a CD at Tribal up north after serving in the same role for 18 months at Cali-based shop, Juxt Interactive, where he worked with clients ranging from Cisco to Toyota to Stanley Black & Decker. During his career, Perez has also held creative roles at the likes of BBDO, Grupo Gallegos and Lopez Negrete. We’ll keep you posted on his status as soon as we hear more.

We Hear: Cereda Lands at MTV Scratch? (Update: Yes)

We’re still awaiting some confirmation/clarification from the MTV camp on this, but we’ve received word from a few sources that Chris Cereda, who’s seemingly disappeared into the ether since we reported on his departure from Translation earlier this year, has landed a job with MTV Scratch. In case you didn’t know, Scratch is a unit launched by the Viacom-owned stalwart that aims to connect millienials and brand partners (including Microsoft/Bing/Xbox and Warner Bros. among others) and lead creative across MTV Networks via original content, design and product development among other things. Here’s an FAQ that should help explain things a bit more.

Anyhow, as you may know, prior to his yearlong stint at CCO at Translation, Cereda served as ECD at KBS+ and worked on MasterCard among other accounts while at McCann during his career. We’re checking on all fronts with this latest matter, but apparently, MTV’s made Cereda’s arrival official, just not public. We’ll keep you posted.

Update: The Viacom camp has confirmed that Cereda has started as a creative director at what is now known as Scratch, Viacom Media Networks.

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