Omnicom and Publicis ready cutback programmes

More news is emerging about job losses and cutbacks – and furloughs, of which more later – at the big ad holding companies.

Omnicom CEO John Wren has warned of such measures at the same time as announcing top exec pay cuts (he isn’t taking a salary until September) while Publicis in the UK is entering a consultation with staff, which suggests job losses may be severe. Welcome to the flip side of country manager, Annette King.

Publicis may be the most exposed of the ad groups, forking out $4.4bn for data business Epsilon last year at a time when overall trading was struggling. In the UK it has a swish new HQ for Saatchi & Saatchi (below) and Leo Burnett in Chancery Lane, on the edge of the City financial district, while its media agencies have only just moved into a redevelopment of the old BBC studios at White City.

In a staff memo Wren says Omnicom will used furloughs – meaning leave of absence, sometime part-funded by governments – where it can. Omnicom’s base is the US – it has a thriving UK-based business too – and the US may emerge from lockdown sooner than some others if Donald Trump has his way (he has an election to win.)

Omnicom and Publicis employ around 80,000 each and it’s pretty obvious that these numbers will be markedly smaller by the end of the Covid-19 outbreak (assuming there is one.) Furloughs will turn into job losses.

Dentsu has already announced a ten per cent pay cut across the board. WPP, which employs over 100,000 people, has yet to announce specific measures.

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