Learn to partner with creators and build customer trust with authenticity. Join leaders from TikTok, the NBA and more at Social Media Week, May 16–18. Register now.
R/GA’s struggles have led to another round of layoffs in the U.S., with more than 100 employees being let go earlier this week, according to three sources familiar with the matter. Two sources indicated that the cuts represent about 20% of the agency’s U.S. workforce. R/GA denied that the number is over 100.
The latest layoffs come after R/GA has gone through numerous rounds since Adweek first reported a 5% reduction of the New York workforce in June 2022. According to a source, R/GA’s revenue fell $50 million year-over-year from its high water mark in 2021 to 2022.
“It is no surprise that market conditions are making an impact on companies this year, and R/GA is no exception. As a result, R/GA is actioning a leaner, more nimble strategy moving forward,” the agency said in a statement. “On Tuesday, April 18, we undertook the difficult yet necessary step of reducing our workforce. Difficult, as we will be parting ways with some extremely talented colleagues, and friends. Moving forward, we’re committed to a more flexible model that will better support our ever-evolving industry landscape, our people, our clients and our work.”
The agency began a small round of layoffs on Monday with several high-ranking employees being let go at the ecd and svp level across the company. The tech and content teams were hit particularly hard, according to one source. Following the initial round, the company held an all-hands meeting, led by creative chair Tiffany Rolfe and interim global CEO Robin Forbes. Founder Bob Greenberg also attended the all-hands meeting.
Employees were told there would be more layoffs Tuesday morning. Unlike previous rounds where employees were given the opportunity to stay on for two more weeks, the employees let go this week had their access cut off immediately.
Earlier this year, R/GA had an exploratory call with one of the largest retail chains in the U.S., but the brand prematurely ended the call because of R/GA’s presentation, according to two sources familiar with the call.
R/GA has lost scope with a number of clients, with one source confirming Ad Age’s previous reporting that Samsung, Verizon, Nike, Ally and Siemens had cut back their spending with the agency.
In February, CEO Sean Lyons left R/GA to take the global capabilities lead role at Accenture Song, while Rolfe was named chair of R/GA and Forbes stepped up to be interim CEO. In December 2022, R/GA named Shannon Washington chief creative officer. According to a source, evp and managing director of New York April Quinn has taken on a larger role leading the U.S. team alongside Fabiano Coura, president of the Americas.
In the last six months, the agency has also lost global CFO Tania Secor; global CMO Ashish Prashar; svp and global head of media, connections and influence Ellie Bamford; and vp and managing director Margo Lowry.
In December 2022, the agency won the multimillion-dollar Mattress Firm account, but just a week later the business reduced the scope of its work with R/GA, switching to a project-based approach. Since then, Mattress Firm cut ties with the agency. One source told Adweek this was a product of the agency not moving fast enough to staff the business and build a relationship with the client.
In November 2022, R/GA made a restructuring of its business, closing its Hudson Yards office space in New York City as well as its office space in downtown San Francisco. R/GA signed a short-term lease in New York at a fraction of the cost of the Hudson Yards office, which one source told Adweek cost R/GA more than $10 million per year.
With the restructuring in the U.S., the agency said it is committed to the five practices it installed last year. R/GA’s strategy was based on the term “distributed creativity.” That restructuring was apparently planned before R/GA reported losses of up to $10 million in 2022 from crypto- and NFT-related work.
R/GA also reimagined its business in 2020, claiming that “Every nine years, R/GA changes the fundamentals of its operating model to align with the future of technology and the influence it will have on people, culture and clients.”
According to a spokesperson, “We’re working to help people find jobs—writing recommendations—many former R/GAers are offering work—the community and the alum network is strong as ever.”