NEWS: Merger threat to Chiat’s virtual vision

Chiat Day’s much-vaunted virtual office work ethic is being heavily compromised as the merger of the New York offices of TBWA and Chiat Day takes place.

Chiat Day’s much-vaunted virtual office work ethic is being heavily

compromised as the merger of the New York offices of TBWA and Chiat Day

takes place.



Dick Costello, president and chief executive of TBWA Chiat Day East,

denied reports this week that the merged agency was abandoning the

founder, Jay Chiat’s, virtual dream, which came into being in 1994.

However, he admitted that some modifications to Chiat’s original concept

were taking place.



‘We are making the concept a little more practical than was originally

intended. But the only changes are evolutions such as giving people more

work surfaces and storage space,’ he said.



Inside sources insist the changes are more dramatic and that the merger

of the two very different agency cultures - uptown Madison Avenue-based

TBWA and downtown Chiat Day - has inevitably led to compromises. Changes

have included adding designated meeting places for creatives and

separate offices for senior TBWA officials, one source said.



The source added that Bill Tragos, chairman and chief executive of TBWA

Chiat Day, had insisted on having his own office, but said: ‘The two

different cultures have got to co-exist in a framework that is fine for

both. There is no doubt that the LA office has been a great success, but

New York has been less so. I think it’s something to do with LA having a

more open, outdoor lifestyle.’



Chiat Day went ‘virtual’ amid much fanfare in 1994, investing heavily in

technology to let staffers work without assigned workspaces.



Since then, several UK-based shops have followed suit. St Luke’s,

formerly the UK office of Chiat Day, went ‘virtual’ in October 1994.

However, David Abrahams, St Luke’s marketing manager, insisted that it

must be sensitively implemented.



‘If you are going to take people’s desks away you have got to make

everybody very comfortable. You can’t be too Stalinist about it,’ he

said.



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