Aiming for a ‘graceful transition’ for media clients: Southcott

TBWAVancouver is closing its media biz, but it's 'business as usual' for the next two months, the agency's president says.

It was a downtrodden Andrea Southcott who picked up the phone at 7 a.m. on Friday morning, as the TBWAVancouver president got set to face the day after breaking the news that the agency would be closing its media division, and seeking bankruptcy protection.

‘It’s sad news – we’ve been in the media business for many years and the team has been with us for many years and they are a strong and talented group. We’re really doing our very best to make sure that everyone finds a happy home. I have to say that going through this is really tough but the support of the community has been unbelievable.’

Southcott declined to comment on what media clients remained with TBWAVancouver following the departure of BC Lotteries to OMD, looking to protect the clients’ interests until the transition period has been completed, she says.

‘For the next two months it’s business as usual. And then we’re looking to do a graceful transition for our other media clients.’

As for where the clients are headed, she’s keeping mum on that too: ‘They all really have enjoyed working with our media team and they have a lot of respect for the people that we would recommend they transition to.’

With the media division closing, longtime TBWA media specialist Carmen Hunt is also leaving the company. Prior to taking over the media director role at TBWAVancouver, Hunt oversaw media at TBWACalgary.

TBWA’s other Canadian offices, which operate independently, are unaffected by the change.

TBWAVancouver filed for bankrupcy protection on Feb. 21 under the corporate name Bryant, Fulton & Shee Advertising Inc.

The agency reportedly owes upwards of $5 million to its creditors, but Southcott said TBWAVancouver is in a strong position to meet its financial obligations.

‘We have significant amounts of cash and accounts receivable and we’re looking to make a really strong proposal to our creditors,’ she says.