Cochrane Chase Agency Loses Account and Cuts 17 People Off Staff, Sources Say

Times Staff Writer

Cochrane Chase, Livingston & Co., one of Orange County’s largest advertising agencies, has lost a $1.5-million account with Seafood Broiler restaurants and has trimmed its staff to about 90 by laying off 17 people, sources said Wednesday.

The agency could not be reached for comment.

But according to sources--some of them former Cochrane staff members--the layoffs are the result of a losing streak that began in July of 1985 when the beleaguered agency lost its $12-million contract with Carl Karcher Enterprises.

Cochrane Chase was able to replace some of that business with new accounts--primarily Lucky Stores’ Southern California Food Division. But in February, the agency lost a second major piece of business, its $12-million Lucky Stores account. And a week later, Epson America canceled its $5-million advertising contract with Cochrane Chase.


Last spring, Cochrane Chase lost PacTel Cellular’s $1.9-million Bay Area business. While the agency still has several PacTel accounts, sources said, the agency is smarting from the defections over the last two years.

“They tried to stave off a bad situation (of the layoffs) as long as possible,” said one former executive who was given his walking papers 10 days ago.

“Cochrane Chase has had a string of very bad luck and it hasn’t turned around, so they’re trimming the sales staff to get scaled down to the (new) business climate.”

On the plus side, Cochrane Chase won kudos in March when its campaign for Pirelli Tire Corp. was named one of the 10 best of 1986 by Adweek, a trade publication.

And the $60-million agency, with offices in Newport Beach, has attracted some new business recently, including Toshiba American Telecommunication Systems Division, Little Company of Mary Hospital and Mark Industries. An Adweek report places the annual value of the new accounts at $4.6 million. But so far this year, Cochrane Chase has had a billings loss of more than $8 million, Adweek reported.

One competitor said of the Cochrane Chase layoffs: “I’m not amazed. I’m delighted. Let’s face it--we’re a bunch of sharks in this business.”