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GSD&M Layoffs, Taylor Exit Pose a Question for Agency's Internal Dissidents

The most interesting thing about the layoffs of 11 people at GSD&M and the salary cuts that everyone else received is the way that GSD&M went out of its way to underline that the exit of ECD Mark Taylor was "separate" to the other job losses. And it will be interesting to see if this round of layoffs will have any effect on employees of GSD&M who seem to be taking their frustrations out anonymously on the AgencySpy blog.

Here's how GSD&M got the "Taylor not laid off, he was asked to leave" message out. There's an implicit criticism of Taylor in the statements about what GSD&M is now looking for to replace him -- "greater management experience" and a "different approach" from "a leadership and management perspective."

The Austin American Statesman:

Separately, executive creative director Mark Taylor has left the agency.

Taylor is "a great talent" who brought a fresh perspective, [spokesperson John] McGrath said. But he said the agency would look for a successor who has a different approach.

The exit of Taylor, who joined GSD&M in February 2008 from Crispin Porter + Bogusky, is "a separate issue" not related to the layoffs, the rep said.

GSD&M would now prefer to hire an exec with greater management experience and a track record with securing sizable new business.

Ad Age:
"We are looking for a different approach from a leadership and management perspective," Mr. McGrath said.
The thing I like best about Ad Age's coverage is the fact that the headline ("GSD&M Cuts Salaries and Ousts Top Creative") and the story don't say he was "fired" -- that would be a potential libel if, technically and officially, GSD&M merely made him redundant with the other 10.

However, someone at Age made a mistake, and the web page's HTML said "GSD&M fires Mark Taylor," as you can see in this image grab.

GSD&M has been plagued by leaks to the AgencySpy blog, most of them highlighting Taylor's unhappiness with the direction of the work. The leaks were so bad it seems that everyone in the agency and the blogosphere knew that Taylor was an unhappy camper as far back as March. It culminated recently with a lengthy anonymous complaint that GSD&M's work for Popeyes Chicken is racist, and the assertion that Taylor (pictured) was not involved with the work. The leak was an embarassment for the agency because it dragged one of its big clients into what is mainly internal agency bickering.

Since then, GSD&M management has been on the warpath, trying to make sure the leaks get stopped. While the release of Taylor and 11 others has nothing to do with the leaks, it begs a question: Who now in GSD&M will risk their job to complain about Popeyes? Especially as GSD&M chief Roy Spence is capable of searching employee email to get what he wants.

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