Below is a report from Chicago Sun Times reporter Lewis Lazare, which states that a total of 35 people were laid off from Element 79, not 30 as we reported last week.
With 15 percent of their staff gone, expectations of a reflex move by the company are high. But how they’ll regain stature in the market that’s forcing layoffs across the board is unknown, probably even to CEO Brian Williams.
See the full story after the jump.
“The axman has arrived at Element 79/Chicago. As had been expected for weeks, Element 79 began laying off staff Tuesday in the wake of the loss of the huge Gatorade account earlier this spring. Per CEO Brian Williams, the agency is letting go 35 people, or about 15 percent of a staff of 220. Williams emphasized the staff reductions had nothing to do with the talents of the pink-slipped employees, but were soley due to the loss of a substantial piece of business. RELATED STORIES Starcom CEO McCann takes 1-year sabbatical Dana Hotel gets inked to become a draw “These are all great people, and what is happening is through no fault of their own,” said Williams. In recent months, the agency also lost the Propel water, Tropicana orange juice, Lays potato chip and Tostitos accounts. The Element 79 layoffs came across all departments and at all levels, up to and including senior vice president, Williams said. About half of the axed staffers were believed to have worked on the Gatorade business. Among the departed, according to one source, is the agency’s head of production, John Noble, who several weeks ago was rumored to be a possible candidate for the top production job at DDB/Chicago, should Element 79 opt to merge with DDB. The big question is whether Element 79 can rebound from the Gatorade loss and pull in a new marquee account. Williams said the agency is pushing ahead full throttle on new business, but admitted there aren’t a lot of major accounts in review at the moment. It has picked up a few small pieces of business. The layoffs come as one of Element 79′s last spots for Gatorade has begun to air. It is about a ball girl for a baseball team who has extraordinary catching abilities.”