Trahan dismisses 7 after losing account Loss of Micron cost agency $30 million

layoffs 1st in 24 years

Advertising

March 07, 1998|By June Arney | June Arney,SUN STAFF

For the second Friday in a row, employees were laid off yesterday at Trahan, Burden & Charles Inc., bringing to seven the people who have been let go since the agency lost its $30 million account with Micron Electronics Inc.

Four employees were dismissed on Feb. 27 and three yesterday, according to Sandra S. Hillman, executive vice president. Another two employees have resigned from the advertising and public relations firm to take other jobs, she said.

The layoffs are the first in the company's 24-year history, Hillman said.

"We've had a lot of big wins lately," Hillman said. "We are very healthy and robust, but we are minus a client. Like any good business, we have to look at our resources and plan accordingly."

TBC has held the account for Micron, a Nampa, Idaho, company that designs and manufactures computers, about 1 1/2 years. Micron has named BAM! of Austin, Texas, to do at least some of its advertising.

Within the past year, TBC also has lost the $8 million Maryland Lottery account, which it had held for 15 years through three different governors.

Hillman pointed to recent account acquisitions including: Baltimore Area Ford Dealers, The Baltimore Sun Co. and Genesis Health Care, the third-largest provider of senior health care in the country. Those three accounts together are estimated at about $12 million in billings, she said.

The recent layoffs come on the heels of a lawsuit filed against TBC and one of its clients, NeighborCare Pharmacies Inc., by New Line Productions Inc., alleging that TBC stole the Austin Powers character from the popular movie "Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery" and used it without permission.

"We think the lawsuit is ridiculous," said Allan Charles, founder and creative director of TBC. "We intend to fight it vigorously. We've been in the business for 24 years, and never had a problem like this."

Dino Sangiamo, an attorney for New Line, declined comment. A spokesman for NeighborCare did not return calls.

The television spot, which ran for about a month and a half before it was pulled, features an Austin Powers look-alike who walks into a NeighborCare Pharmacy asking for a variety of non-medicinal products. The pharmacist tells the character that those items aren't sold there, implying that the pharmacy focuses on medicinal products.

The lawsuit seeks punitive and other damages for New Line. The film, which was released in May, has generated more than $53 million in box office revenues.

Pub Date: 3/07/98

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