D.C.-based digital agency ISL, which also has an NYC office, is closing at the end of the year. Peter Corbett founded iStrategyLabs (ISL) in D.C in August 2008 and, in July 2016, sold it to WPP’s J. Walter Thompson Co. now Wunderman Thompson. According to reports, the staff was informed last week.
Upon hearing of ISL’s closure, Corbett said, “While I haven’t been involved with WPP and ISL for over a year and half since my retirement, I was made aware of the impending closure as a matter of professional courtesy. It’s not for me to say whether or not this is the right move – I don’t know how ISL has been performing nor what WPP’s consolidation plans are.
“What I do know is that over forty super talented people in the D.C. office have been let go, and my heart goes out to them. I know they will find meaningful work in their next chapter, and I wish them success in all that they do. I miss working with the team and look back on all that we did together with a lot of love and joy.”
DJ Saul, ISL’s CEO, told Capitol Communicator, “our team constitutes some of the most talented strategists, creatives, doers and makers in D.C., and will make incredible additions to whatever agencies, brands, and organizations they end up joining. Each of them contributed to our cultural fabric in some unique way, and I look back on over a decade of work with humility and amazement at what we were able to build.” Saul moved to Los Angeles this past summer.
According to the agency’s website, ISL was named Ad Age’s Small Agency of the Year (twice) and has won over 20 Cannes Lions and other industry awards.
In addition to shuttering ISL, WPP is closing J. Walter Thompson (JWT) Inside, Business Insider reported.
According to Fresh News Now, the closures come as the ad industry “faces significant headwinds, with clients cutting budgets, assigning work on a shorter-term basis, and bypassing agencies to work with production companies or consulting firms.
“It also reflects WPP CEO Mark Read’s ongoing attempt to streamline the world’s largest ad agency holding company by folding, absorbing, or selling off non-core units. Business Insider first reported last month that WPP would combine some of its agencies. In the largest such shift, WPP just sold 60% of market analytics firm Kantar Media to Bain Capital for $4 billion.”
We heard from two area agencies that they are interested in seeing who is on the market that may be appropriate additions to their agencies.
Matt Smith, author of the “Oh, That’s Good” column in Capitol Communicator, offers his thoughts on the close of ISL here.