Y&L ad firm making 'significant' staff cuts

December 1, 2008
Young & Laramore is making what it says are "significant" staff cuts in the wake of losing the Steak n Shake account. Though Y&L CEO Paul Knapp declined to say how many of the firm's 66 employees have been or would be terminated, industry sources pegged the number at near 20.

After 18 years with Y&L, Steak n Shake's new CEO, Sardar Biglari, said in November that the restaurant chain is going in a different direction with its advertising and marketing. The relationship has already started to wind down and officially ends Feb. 3, Knapp said.

Though Steak n Shake — which has been plagued recently by declining sales — is Y&L's biggest account, the ad agency is not in danger of going out of business, Knapp said.

"I'm confident we're going to put ourselves in a position to recover from this and thrive," Knapp said. "No partners and no senior members are leaving and no divisions are going away." To survive, he said, Y&L will begin more aggressively going after national accounts in the retail and consumer packaged goods categories, green and sustainable goods and services, and — for the first time in many years — the restaurant category. While the local ad agency's focus will remain on national accounts, Y&L will pursue smaller aspects of accounts and not just agency-of-record assignments. Y&L also will proceed with plans to launch a design and digital unit in early 2009.
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