Media agency Universal McCann, affiliates to cut 213 jobs in Birmingham – Crain’s Detroit Business

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Universal McCann and affiliated agencies are laying off 213 employees in Birmingham, including dozens of senior managers and vice presidents, after losing its account with Fiat Chrysler Automobiles.

Universal McCann is eliminating 116 jobs — “the majority of its staff” at its 205 Hamilton Row office, according to a notice filed with the state. Reprise Media Inc. is cutting an additional 92 jobs at the same office and Mediabrands Worldwide Inc. is cutting five. All three brands are subsidiaries of New York City-based Interpublic Group of Cos.

All layoffs are expected to take place March 8, according to the WARN notice, which was posted by the state Thursday. None of the affected employees have bumping rights or union representation.

Layoffs at Universal McCann include 90 senior-level positions, as well as portfolio managers, media researchers and finance personnel. Job cuts at Reprise, which also include dozens of senior-level positions, are a result of the company moving to “eliminate the majority of its Search, Social and Mobile Media practice,” the notice said. The five layoffs at Mediabrands represent the elimination of its IT department.

Notice of the layoffs comes just a few months after Universal McCann signed a deal to become the official agency of record for Detroit-based Quicken Loans Inc. and announced it would open an office in Detroit with 150 employees.

Universal McCann handles media buying and strategy. It operates separately from creative agencies Commonwealth//Detroit and MRM//McCann Detroit, though they are all owned by the IPG holdings group.

IPG Mediabrands confirmed that the planned layoffs are due to loss of the FCA business.

“We are working to find positions for these employees at other agencies within our network, and remain committed to an increased footprint in downtown Detroit,” the company said Friday in a statement sent to Crain’s. “We continue to serve a number of key clients out of our Detroit locations.”

Zinnia Gill, associate director of communications for the company, said in an email that there are no plans to close the Birmingham office.

A message was left Friday with Scott Russell, president of the company’s central region.

FCA — the nation’s 12th largest ad spender at $2.2 billion annually — launched a media agency review in May for its business in the U.S., Canada and Mexico, Ad Age reported. In December, the automaker selected Chicago-based Starcom as its new media and social media agency, replacing Universal McCann, which had been on the account since 2009.

Universal McCann isn’t the only agency to be hit by lost auto business. Longtime Ford Motor Co. advertising agency GTB, based in Dearborn, is cutting its global workforce after being demoted on the automaker’s account. It is unclear how many workers are affected in metro Detroit, where the company employs around 1,000.

Russell told Crain’s in September that some of the 150 employees moving to downtown Detroit would be relocated from Birmingham. He said he was looking at the move as an “expansion.”

Russell said Universal McCann’s Detroit operation was to start as a 40-person team in the 1001 Woodward building owned by Dan Gilbert’s Bedrock LLC before moving into a permanent, 23,000-square-foot office at the First National Building, also owned by Bedrock.

Quicken Loans spokesman John Perich said nothing has changed regarding the deal between Quicken Loans and Universal McCann. He said the agency has employees working in Detroit and the build-out for its new office is moving forward.

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