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Ogilvy Washington Blames 'Fiscal Environment' For Staff Layoffs

Ogilvy PR today announced a swathe of layoffs at its largest North American office of Washington, DC.

Arun Sudhaman

Arun Sudhaman

WASHINGTON, DC--Ogilvy PR today made layoffs at its Washington, DC operation, the network's largest office in North America, in response to what the firm called a difficult "fiscal environment".

It is understood that between 10 to 20 executives from the public affairs powerhouse's 200-strong workforce have been laid off, ranging from SVP-level down to account executives.

Ogilvy Washington has been one of the network's star operations for many years, growing at around nine percent annually during the past decade.

Ogilvy North America CEO Robert Mathias, who has also headed the Washington office for many years, blamed a gridlocked Congress and spending cuts in government PR programmes.

"In a market where the government doesn't want to spend money, and Congress presents neither a threat nor an opportunity, we are seeing a very different landscape," Mathias told the Holmes Report.

In addition to private sector clients, government work has been a mainstay of Ogilvy Washington's growth. It is understood that two of the firm's major government contracts - the promotion of the HHS healthcare.gov site and CDC's campaign for flu vaccination education - concluded in late 2012. 

In a statement, the firm also said: "Current accounts in Washington as well as existing client budgets have remained constant. The need to reduce staff is caused by a changing commercial landscape, a reassessment of market opportunity and the need to adapt the structure of an organization that has been built on a decade of significant year-on-year growth."

Earlier this year, Mathias was elevated to regional CEO of North America.

The staff cuts do not affect sister lobbying firm Ogilvy Government Relations, which saw its own senior staff upheaval last year, shortly after it was fired by Chevron. 

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