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Razorfish

Razorfish Responds to Layoff Rumors

razorfishHere’s Razorfish’s response to rumors that 20-30 employees were laid off last week:

“In order to ensure our clients continue to access best-in-breed services that operate at the intersection of technology, media and creative, we sometimes need to modify our staffing structure. Less than 2% of our North American staff was affected by the change. We continue to remain committed to recruiting new talent and skill sets in support of our clients’ ever-evolving needs.”

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We Hear: Is Brian Wallace Out at Motorola?

Brian-Wallace We’ve reached out to the Motorola camp on multiple tries and haven’t succeeded but sources tell that Brian Wallace, who joined the Google-owned company barely a year ago, is no longer there. Here is one of several comments we’ve received: “Razorfish took on Motorola when Brian Wallace went there, while still working on Samsung. They did the Motorola work under the name Digitas (and still are).  Media planning/buying is being done by the real Digitas (NYC office) but the rest is Razorfish Chicago and Austin. Some key individuals were working on both at the same time [names redacted]. Samsung was not happy about this. Legal got involved. Went on for a while; Razorfish knew that Samsung would wind down the biz and move on, and it was so.”

Oy, if you recall, Wallace’s relationship with Razorfish dates back a few years, during the time he worked at RIM and served as VP/global digital marketing and media for the latter brand. Prior to his most recent gig, Wallace served in a similar VP/strategic marketing role at Samsung.

Here’s More on Samsung/Motorola/Razorfish

samsungfish

Yeesh, this story will not cease, and the tipster onslaught continues. To add a little bit more color if you will to yesterday’s story about Samsung/Razorfish/Motorola, we’ve got this word from a source in the know. We forgot to mention that Brian Wallace‘s relationship with the agency extends back to his Blackberry days at RIM, where he spent well over a decade and last served as VP/global digital marketing and media.

Once again, we will keep the other parties’ involved name redacted but we have received several tips about this. Here’s the first allegation: “I was part of the Denuo team on Samsung. The only firewall was that we worked on different floors. In many cases, Blackberry people would pitch in on the Samsung work. [Redacted] knew, his former employer didn’t. I heard the same thing happened again with Motorola (I still have buddies there).”

Along with being told that this was “common practice” at the agency, we’ve been told that employees have not only been given two business cards in order to promote both the GS4 and the Moto X “within days of each other,” From what we’ve heard from those in the know it was one card for Razorfish and the other at fellow Publicis Groupe-based shop, Digitas/Denuo. These tips are getting too numerous to accumulate. If you recall, Samsung just hired Razorfish over a year ago to work as the brand’s digital AOR.

We Hear: Is This Why Samsung Parted Ways with Razorfish?

samsunggalaxynote

You might recall that over the summer, Samsung moved its U.S. digital business from Razorfish to R/GA and now, all of a sudden, we’ve been filled with tips possibly about the reason why. According to sources familiar with the matter, there were conflicts of interest at hand. We hear senior execs on Razorfish’s mobile biz (we won’t name names at this point as we’re still checking on things) had also pursued the relaunch of Motorola–a direct competitor–not too long after head Samsung marketer Brian Wallace , who we’ve been told brought on Publicis Groupe-owned Razorfish to its roster while he was the former company, left for a similar role at Motorola late last year.

The kicker is that our sources say that Razorfish worked as fellow Publicis Groupe digital agency Denuo in order to maintain the Samsung biz and technically handled both Samsung and Motorola at the same time, hence the boot. Oy vey, it sounds like a mess and we’re looking into it, though our sources in the know actually worked on the account but we’ll try to get some more info on the matter. Feel free to chime in below.

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.”

Palmer Parts Ways with Razorfish

For whatever reason, the Razorfish camp has been unusually unresponsive since we started inquiring about this last week, but yes, it appears that executive creative director Rob Palmer has left the Publicis Groupe agency after nearly three years. Palmer, who served as ECD at Razorfish West but actually worked out of his home turf in Boise, initially joined the agency as creative director after co-running his own shop, Mitchell + Palmer. From what spies are telling us,Palmer’s recent departure preceded yet another round of cuts–though relatively small this time around–at Razorfish (we’re hearing anywhere from 5-10).

Anyhow, prior to Razorfish, Palmer spent some time as a CD on eBay while at Goodby, worked in a similar role at BBDO and served as CD for several years at W+K on accounts like ESPN and Nike.

 

We Hear: Razorfish Cuts in Central/SE Region? (Updated)

The numbers have been varying all morning on this one, but we’ve received several reports that Razorfish has cut staffers across departments, across cities ranging from Chicago to Atlanta to Austin.

We’re hearing anywhere from 30-50 staffers (actually, some are saying even 100?!) have been affected. Was it due to the Publicis Groupe-owned agency overbooking staff on the Samsung digital biz? We’re not sure at this point, but the tips have been piling up all morning on this one. We’re of course checking and will keep you posted if and when.

Update: Here’s a quick statement from a Razorfish spokesperson: “As consumer needs continue to shift alongside the digital landscape, we periodically make staff adjustments to guarantee we’re equipped with the skills that match our clients’ changing demands. The recent workforce reduction will ensure continued operational health as we evolve these critical offerings moving forward.  Our capabilities and staffing are now further aligned so that we can continue to effectively deliver solutions at the intersection of technology, media and creative.”

Razorfish Names Daniel Bonner New Global CCO

We’ve just received word that Razorfish has named Daniel Bonner as the agency’s new global CCO. Bonner joined Razorfish in September of last year at the agency’s London office after a 14-year stint at AKQA UK.

We have what appears to be an internal memo from Razorfish CEO Bob Lord about the appointment. Congrats, Daniel, and take it away, fellow Bob!

“Fish –

You may recall several weeks ago I announced a search for a global Chief Creative Officer for our business.  Today, I’m pleased to announce that we have awarded that position to Daniel Bonner.  In his new post, he will oversee Razorfish’s global creative vision; championing ideas that build brands, and content that incites consumers to engage.

As I’ve said many times, we firmly believe that the interaction of creative, media and technology is essential to great marketing. Our most successful programs as an agency – those that drive the biggest ROI for our clients – happen when these three disciplines work together seamlessly. Since Daniel joined Razorfish in September of ’11, he has been an absolutely essential component to ensuring we deliver that mix to our clients.

I have attached the press release for your reference.  Articles will be hitting the trades momentarily. Until then, please join me in congratulating Daniel on his promotion.”

(ed: If and when we get said release that Lord is referring to, we’ll post more)

From the Looks of It, John McVay, Razorfish Part Ways

After spending eight years at Razorfish, it appears that John McVay (pictured) is leaving the agency’s Atlanta office according to a memo sent from president Shannon Denton. McVay has spent the last four years as managing director of Razorfish’s ATL digs. We’re checking into see where the departing exec is headed to next, but feel free to read Denton’s memo below, verbatim:

“From: Shannon Denton
To: Everyone – Razorfish Atlanta
Date: 3/15/2012 11:41am

Hi Atlanta Fish,
I wanted to let you know that John McVay has decided to leave Razorfish.

John has clearly been instrumental in building the Atlanta office, developing great client relationships and contributing in many other areas across Razorfish and the Central Region.   Please join me in wishing him the best of luck going forward.   He will certainly be missed.

Over the next several weeks, I will be working with John, Atlanta office leadership and the Central Region leadership team to transition key clients and other responsibilities as appropriate.

It is natural for some to feel concern when someone like John leaves.  However, we have a tremendously talented team & leadership in Atlanta, do phenomenal work and are blessed with great client relationships.  And fundamental to Razorfish’s great history and culture is how we achieve even greater levels during times of change.

Going forward, I am very confident in our ability to continue to grow Razorfish Atlanta, build careers for Atlanta Fish, deliver great work and delight our clients.

Thank you,

Shannon”

Digitas/Razorfish Health Now Housed Under PHCG Umbrella

We’re not sure if this is an evolution of the “shared centers of excellence” structure that Digitas/Razorfish Health were plotting after the last round of layoffs this summer, but whatever the case, the agencies have now aligned with Publicis Healthcare Communications Group as part of a revamp of Publicis Groupe’s healthcare offering.

With this move, Digitas and Razorfish Health will join a PHCG roster that currently includes Saatchi & Saatchi Health, Publicis Life Brands, Publicis Healthware International, Publicis Touchpoint Solutions, and Publicis Medical Education Group. Leadership-wise, while Digitas/Razorfish Health CEO is calling it quits by year’s end, global co-presidents Michael du Toit and Alexandra von Plato will remain on board and report to PHCG president/CEO Nick Colucci. In a statement, Publicis Groupe COO Jean-Yves Naouri, who’s been mentioned over and over as Maurice Levy‘s eventual successor and oversees PHCG, says, “This move will create patterns of cross-fertilization, ensuring that we have the sharpest and best integrated skills on the market.”

The Philly-based Health units’ client roster currently includes J&J, Prizer and Bristol-Myers Squibb.

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