MEC Interaction Chicago Shuttered After NY Office Loses Sears


Bitterness and anger can be a common emotion when it comes to employment issues and the negative treatment co-workers receive from their superiors for issues outside their control. Those are the emotions eight former WPP MEC Interaction employees may be feeling today after having their office in Chicago shuttered by WPP MEC Interaction Founder Alan Schanzer.

According to a source, the Chicago office, which handled the Sears interactive business for four years until Schanzer moved it to his New York office last November has been shuttered. The source tells us the account, originally won five years ago by the New York office, was moved to the newly-created Chicago office four years ago because the account was "a task his team couldn't handle."

Reportedly fearing his own office's extinction due to loss of other business, Schanzer moved the account back to the New York office only to lose it five months later in a review. Apparently, things didn't go so well. Conversely, the Chicago office scrambled to successfully bring in new business to fill the void left bt Sears but that proved only to be a temporary solution.

Following an account loss of this magnitude, logic might dictate the team working directly on the account would find themselves in the unemployment line or at least suffer some consequence but it was the eight Chicago-based MEC Interactive employees who, we're told, "saved" the account from New York four years ago which Schanzer decided to off instead.

In typical ad industry fashion, the eight Chicago-based MEC Interactive employees were handed a paltry two weeks severance package and a promise they'd have the chance to interview for other WPP jobs in July if they agreed not to comment. To be clear, the tip we base this story on did not come from one of the eight Chicago employees. Also in typical agency fashion, the Chicago team was promised there'd be no layoffs after the Sears loss only to find a New York-based HR representative knocking on their door yesterday morning with walking papers. Nary a peep from Schanzer. Calls to Alan Schanzer for comment were not immediately returned prior to publication.

While it's certainly unfortunate eight very successful people are out of work today in Chicago, one could argue they are without jobs because their office was created solely to handle the one account which was taken away from them. And that Schanzer was more than kind to keep them on for the six months after he shifted the account to his New York office. Conversely, one could argue the eight proved themselves worthy of saving for bringing in new business seemingly in addition to the parent company's overall revenues. And that Schanzer was far too harsh in closing the office rather than making "adjustments" in his New York office where the loss of the Sears account occurred.

The agency business is a nasty one. We know. We've been there. We've been used, abused, lied to, made to lie, laid off, fired, taken advantage of. Apparently, everything is still business-as-usual inside the hallowed walls of the proverbial Madison Avenue.

UPDATE: Informing us we need better sources Alan Schanzer has contacted us and, through an email exchange, has confirmed the Chicago office remains open with people "working across all disciplines in the business." He tells us he believes just 5-6 people were let go, not eight. Further clarifying things, Alan told us, "We build our business in a way that provides flexibility based on where we need resources for a client engagement. We no longer work with Sears and therefore, no longer need those resources in that location. MEC Chicago remains open and vibrant."

by Steve Hall    Jun-19-07   Click to Comment   
Topic: Agencies, Bad, Brands   

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As one of the 8 MECi employees laid off, I can say that no one on the team is harboring any ill feelings toward the company or Alan Schanzer. I personally have nothing but gratitude & respect for him as a leader in this industry & as a mentor. The ad biz is volatile & as grown ups, none of us are oblivious to the ebbs & flows that it brings.

Posted by: TeResa on June 19, 2007 1:15 PM

I am not sure who this “inside source” is but nearly all of the details here are not true at all… Being one of the 8 people who was let go yesterday I know first hand that Alan Shanzer has been a great leader for the Sears account. The client has had a GREAT relationship with Alan which has allowed for the HUGE growth in Sears online spending. Clients switching agencies and offices closing are all part of the game. I would work for Alan again in a heartbeat.

Posted by: Chris Johnson on June 19, 2007 1:25 PM

This article is a total farce. There are so many half truths and outright lies I have lost count. If anything, Alan Schanzer is a fighter for his people...he's not perfect by any stretch of the imagination, but he's a decent guy who loves the business, is respected by the clients, and treats the people who work with him well.

Posted by: Truth on June 19, 2007 3:29 PM

Perhaps Steve Hall's "skills" are better suited to or as he clearly lacks the professionalism and testicular fortitude necessary to work in the Ad industry.

Really, how hard it is to check your facts and speak the truth?

Steve Hall is a liar, a charlatan and a Coward.

Posted by: Natalie on June 19, 2007 4:21 PM

Youch! It's the attack of the MECglobal hit squad! Natalie, I did contact Alan both via phone and email this morning. He has since responded and I will be adding his comments to the story.

If you did a bit of fact checking of your own, you'd realize I do have the "professionalism and testicular fortitude" to work in the ad industry having done so for 20 years prior to publishing Adrants.

Posted by: Steve Hall on June 19, 2007 4:33 PM

As the other on this team have stated there are quite a few untruths in this article. The things I do know that are true:
1.)Clients come and go, so agencies come and go.
2.)MEC:I Chicago has/had some of the best brands and clients in the business. I will miss them.
3.)MEC:I Chicago is the best and smartest group of people I've ever been blessed to work with in this business. I will miss them.
4.)Alan Schanzer had a tough decision to make and I know it broke his heart. This is's not personal.
5.)Respect is earned in this business and I respect everyone within the MEC:I and Media Edge CIA organizations.
6.)Last, but not least I've learned so much...thank you Alan and Carrie and the MEC:I Chicago team for teaching me.
7.)I had a blast...I'll see everyone soon!

Posted by: Carlyn Morris - Group Media Director MEC:I Chicago on June 19, 2007 4:41 PM

While people might be upset over this, Alan made nothing more than a business decision. No one has been abandonded here.

Why isn't there anything about Mindshare in this? They are laying off people as well over this. Shouldn't there be a few shots fired over the bows there?

Isn't everyone forgetting that the heading of this web page includes the word "gossip"?

Posted by: Eric Edelstein on June 19, 2007 4:48 PM

Steve -
I just dont appreciate this taking place on a forum on what is essentially a space to trade gossip.

It was a business decision. None of us are taking it personally. Its not necessary for others to comment on our situation, 20 years of experience notwithstanding.

Posted by: Natalie on June 19, 2007 4:52 PM

Natalie - no one elected you the MEC Interaction representative.

This IS a gossip column. Don't read it if you don't like it.

I personally think you should all be FLATTERED that some people have tuned their tiny little violins over your dismissals.

Posted by: Ziggy on June 19, 2007 7:14 PM

While only directly voiced by Natalie, we all feel the same way.

Posted by: Eric Edelstein on June 20, 2007 11:57 AM