March 31, 2020
7:00 AM EDT
WPP issues update on financials
WPP provided an update on its financials for the first two months of 2020, due to the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on its business. The holding company said the health crisis led to a 16.1 percent decline in revenue-less-pass-through costs in China during the two-month period. WPP said the overall holding company saw a decrease of 0.6 percent in revenue less-pass-through costs, which was in line with expectations. In the U.S. during the first two months, revenue less-pass-through costs improved compared to 2019, declining 0.9 percent compared to the 4.4 percent decrease in revenue less-pass-through costs reported for the first two months of 2019.
The company said close to 95 percent of its employees are working remotely, and noted how it's "seen outstanding examples of creativity from our people as they support out clients, governments and NGOs in the fights against COVID-19. ... Our global media network Wavemaker, for example, helped the Cabinet Office to launch its coronavirus information service on WhatsApp to reduce the pressure on the NHS [in the UK]." In China, the company said 55 percent of its workforce is back in the office.
In March, WPP said it began to see "a range of different responses from clients globally" including an increase in media cancellations, causing the company to expect its performance for the month to be weaker than it was in January or February. WPP said it launched a review of its costs, with protecting its people a top priority—so far, it has introduced a hiring freeze; is reviewing its freelance expenditure; stopping discretionary costs including travel and hotels and the costs of award shows; and is postponing planned salary increases for 2020. The WPP executive committee also took a 20 percent pay cut for an initial period of three months. WPP will issue its trading update for the first quarter on April 29.
March 30, 2020
9:30 AM EDT
One Club launches COVID-19 Jobs Board
To support the industry through the pandemic, The One Club for Creativity launched a free service for connecting job seekers with agencies, design studios, production companies and brand marketers looking to fill positions. The One Club COVID-19 Jobs Board is free to use and open to any person or company in the industry; a One Club membership is not necessary. The service will span full-time positions, project work, freelance assignments and internships across all levels of experience. The One Club said companies worldwide can submit job postings for immediate openings, as well for opportunities expected in the future once the pandemic is over.
“We needed to act quickly to help people whose jobs have been affected by the pandemic, and this was the easiest, fastest way to connect people with job openings,” said Justin Epstein, One Club corporate member and chapter manager. "It’s a simple, no-frills platform that can make a real difference for both parties.”
March 26, 2020
11:00 AM EDT
IPG withdraws financial outlook for 2020
Given the uncertainties around the coronavirus pandemic, Interpublic Group of Cos. withdrew its previously issued financial outlook for 2020.
“The impact of COVID-19 has continued in recent weeks to grow around the world in human tragedy and macroeconomic cost,” IPG CEO-Chairman Michael Roth said in a statement. “We remain focused on protecting the health and safety of our employees around the world, serving our clients, and supporting our communities.”
Roth said that "in the current environment, visibility into marketing and media spend is extremely challenging," but assured that the company's liquidity and balance sheet are "strong."
"Our company has a long track record of navigating successfully through uncertain economic periods due to the strength of our talent and operating disciplines that are in full force, servicing our clients and rigorously managing our flexible cost base," Roth added. "We have multiple cost levers to align expenses with changes in revenue and our operators are executing as appropriate on both the revenue and expense sides."
IPG previously forecast 3 percent organic revenue growth for 2020.
March 25, 2020
1:00 PM EDT
Media Bridge waives fees for 'pivoting' creative
Media Bridge Advertising in Minneapolis implemented a radical strategy to combat the impact of the coronavirus pandemic. Noting how "some advertising agencies are taking advantage of their clients by charging them exorbitant rates to create 'pivot plans' to adjust," the creative and media shop said it will instead waive client fees. CEO Tracy Call is urging other shops to take the "COVID-19 pledge" that includes offering no on-boarding fees; free media and marketing audits for new clients; free development and execution of "pivot plans" for clients; and free consultation for any advertiser who needs to talk to leadership or members of the agency.
"If it feels like COVID-19 has changed everything in an instant, it has," Call says. "Unfortunately, the one universal in this crisis is that advertisers feel paralyzed. And that’s not sustainable. I’ve made a lot of decisions in the last week for my company and my clients. And I’ve made one in particular that I want to share in the hopes that it will have a positive influence on other leaders in media, marketing and advertising."
7:30 AM EDT
Update from Omnicom Group
Omnicom Group provides an update on the current impact of the coronavirus pandemic, anticipating that "the impact of related government actions such as travel restrictions, limitations on public gatherings, shelter in place orders and mandatory closures" could "pose a risk that clients may reduce their demand for our services and could result in a reduction in our revenue, which would adversely affect our operations."
The holding company said "a major priority for us is preserving liquidity" during this time. As of December 31, 2019, Omnicom reported cash and cash equivalents and short-term investments of $4.3 billion.
Omnicom said it has "strengthened existing measures to mitigate the effect of COVID-19 on our business, including with respect to our discretionary costs, cash position and liquidity" but it cannot "at this time predict the impact of COVID-19 on our operations and liquidity, and depending on the magnitude and duration of the COVID-19 pandemic, such impact may be material." The company said an update will be provided during its first-quarter earnings call.
March 19, 2020
11:00 AM EDT
Webby Awards cancels gala, takes celebrations online
The Webby Awards, which celebrates the best of the internet, has canceled its 24th annual event honoring this year's winners. It was originally scheduled for May 11 in New York.
This year's nominees will be announced in the coming weeks and winners will instead be honored through an online celebration, giving them the chance to still deliver their “Webby 5-Word Speech.” The International Academy of Digital Arts and Sciences, the judging body that puts on The Webby Awards, also said it will be launching The Webby People's Voice public voting in the coming weeks.
Claire Graves, executive director of The Webby Awards, said in a statement that the online celebration “will engage our community all over the world and will aim to be as inspiring as the winners themselves.”
This year's nominees were originally slated to be announced on March 31 but Graves said “a new announcement schedule will be released in the days ahead.”
March 18, 2020
9:10 AM EDT
Cannes Lions moves to October
Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity has been rescheduled to Oct. 26-Oct. 30, from June 22-June 26. The festival said in a statement that the decision follows “much deliberation” with partners, customers, public health officials, French authorities and the mayoral office of Cannes where the event is held annually. Cannes said it would continue to have conversations with all parties as it adopts its contingency plans.
The festival noted that it is working with the City of Cannes “to make sure that the move from June to October is a smooth transition for everyone. If you are an existing Cannes Lions customer, all passes, sponsorship arrangements and bookings will roll over and remain valid.” The Lions will be awarded in October and Cannes said it is finalizing plans “to extend the deadline and eligibility date ... with an update coming soon.”
“The global situation is dynamic and changing rapidly, we felt it was critical to provide visibility on June as soon as possible,” Cannes Lions Chairman Philip Thomas said. “We will continue to liaise closely with our customers as we develop our plans.”
March 17, 2020
2:00 PM EDT
Creative Digital Agency (CDA) implements WFH
San Francisco-based full-service shop Creative Digital Agency implemented a work-from-home policy for all employees due to the county’s “shelter in place” mandate. “Our clients remain our No. 1 priority, and our staff will continue to be reachable via phone, email and/or video conference,” says Kevin Almeida, CDA managing director. “In the meantime, if you need assistance getting the word out to your audience about COVID-19, we are here to help. We are already engaged in Covid-related content production and media outreach on behalf of a number of our clients during this time of national crisis.”
12:00 PM EDT
BBDO opens ‘hundreds’ of new offices with a logo generator for WFH staff
In an effort to reassure all its employees stuck working from home because of the pandemic, BBDO New York created a new logo generator that incorporates staffers’ addresses into the agency’s mark. Employees can use it in new email signatures and some have even placed it on pictures of their home workspaces. The idea got so much love internally that the agency rejiggered the generator so team members around the world can now use it.
March 16, 2020
3:20 PM EDT
AICP postpones its annual awards
The Association of Independent Commercial Producers (AICP), the U.S. nonprofit supporting the advertising production community, is postponing all of its in-person events and programming, including its annual AICP Show typically held at New York’s Museum of Modern Art.
The news comes as other major industry shows have curtailed or altered their plans in the wake of the coronavirus epidemic (The One Club recently announced that the One Show and other Creative Week events would now be streamed online) and as New York City has announced measures that included the temporary closure of cultural institutions, including MOMA and the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
The AICP Week events, which also include the AICP Next Awards and educational talks as part of its “Base Camp” programming, were originally scheduled for June 9-11. The organization’s AICP Post Awards, honoring the best in post-production, was previously set for May 6 and will be paused as well.
“The AICP Awards programs are an opportunity to celebrate craft, thought leadership and above all else, community. At this time, protecting the community is paramount,” said AICP President and CEO Matt Miller in a statement. The AICP will issue updates on rescheduling as they become available.
In light of the events, the AICP also created a Coronavirus/COVID-19 resource blog to help the industry navigate through production issues that may arise with regards to the pandemic. That will be updated regularly as well.
3:10 PM EDT
Curiosity assures clients
Cincinnati-based independent shop Curiosity issued a notice to its clients assuring that “we will be conducting our business.” The agency’s chief client officer and president, Trey Harness, said in the note that employees were instructed to work from home but “you can rest assured that the service and output from us will not change.” Harness said the account team leaders “will proactively communicate any changes in operations” to its clients although any changes “should be minor” and could include rescheduling an in-person meeting to be done via video conference. “If a meeting must take place in-person, our account teams will work with you on coordinating it,” Harness added.
“We are a business that relies on collaboration and teamwork,” Harness said. “Thankfully, we are also a business that already has a flexible remote working policy and is practiced in handling meetings with individuals in remote locations around the world. We have a simple and thorough business continuity plan and we have begun implementation of it across our business operations.”
2:00 PM EDT
Wren writes to Omnicom staff
Omnicom Group has advised all employees to work from home, beginning Monday, March 16. Chairman-CEO John Wren wrote to employees that only “essential staff” should be going into the office and should still “maintain the recommended social distance." If any of those employees feel uncomfortable going into the office, they should speak to a supervisor to “accommodate your needs," he wrote. "If employees feel sick or are around someone who is sick, Wren added those employees should also stay home."
“At this stage, we feel a work from home policy is the right approach for our people,” Wren said. “In addition, we are encouraging all of you to follow the guidance of national, local and city regulatory authorities.”
Wren noted that Omnicom offices in China and Singapore have started to “get back to business as usual. Our people there did a great job in keeping their businesses functioning during the past couple of months. I want to thank them and all of you for your efforts now and what we know you will do in the weeks to come,” he said.
1:00 PM EDT
4A's issues guidance to members
The 4A's has implemented a work-from-home policy for its employees, restricted travel and in-person meetings; and postponed its annual Decisions 20/20 summit from April 20-21 to early 2021 and its Management Practitioners Forum from March 30-31 to fall 2020. It has also issued guidance for agencies navigating business in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, while saying ultimately that “each of our member agencies must make the best decisions for their employees and businesses."
The guidance includes resources such as an MIT Sloan Management Review on how companies can respond to the pandemic; an infographic from the U.S. Centers of Disease Control and Prevention on how to guard yourself from disease; and research from Forrester on employee sentiment around coronavirus (29 percent say they fear going into the office) and best technology to use to work remotely.
1:00 PM EDT
Bollore reassures Havas employees
Havas CEO Yannick Bollore has sent a memo to the network’s employees reassuring them that the company will weather the financial storm of the coronavirus. “I want you to know that Havas is a solid group with a strong financial position, and I am confident we have everything we need to get through this,” said Bollore in the memo. Referring to the Havas group as a “family,” he added: “Our people all over the globe are deeply innovative, agile and filled with creative spirit. Although many of us are separated and are each facing unique circumstances, we face this situation together.”
“Situations like these challenge us,” wrote Bollore. “They put us in a position of making decisions that we have never made before. All over the world our people are being pushed to adapt to fast moving and unprecedented circumstances. I couldn’t be more proud of the work that each of you are doing, to protect one another and your communities, and to be adaptive as we face uncertain times.”
March 14, 2020
10:00 AM EDT
WPP recommends 'managed remote working'
WPP asks staff to work from home where possible, with CEO Mark Read issuing an internal memo saying the company would move to a policy of "managed remote working." He added, "Where some functions need to be carried out in offices, your managers will work with you to determine how to cover what needs to be done and will encourage travel at less busy times and greater flexibility in working patterns." Read also said that, going forward, WPP employees could not take part in either domestic or international business air travel without permission from company CEOs—and that permission would be denied except in "truly exceptional circumstances."