In August, Publicis’ digital division mandated its employees return to the office three days a week and outlined penalties if they don’t, including being ineligible for salary increases and bonuses. The agency said it could track compliance by monitoring building access and internet usage.
“We’re not seeing consistently that employees are aligned with [back-to-office mandates],” said Kaplowitz. “About 20% [of employees] are ignoring them. As the mandates get stronger [after Labor Day], you are going to see more shuffling going on in the next three to four months.”
Read more about the Publicis mandate here
The buyer’s market for agencies is also driving down salaries. “When there is a glut of talent on the market in any industry that will lead to pressure on talent to lower their rates to land their next role. This has affected the freelance economy as well,” said Williams, adding, “We hear stories all the time of freelancers being low-balled with embarrassingly low numbers from agencies.”
Horizon Media Chief Marketing and Chief Equity Officer Latraviette Smith-Wilson said the agency routinely receives double the applicants necessary for posted positions and noted that the shop is increasingly getting personal emails and LinkedIn pleas for jobs.
Related: Fractional ad executive roles grow for brands and agencies
Some people are fleeing these big agency resets for independent shops. Julie Berger, who became chief media officer of Giant Spoon in August, left EssenceMediacom during the merger, because, as she said, she could see “the writing on the wall.”
“I knew that there was maybe not necessarily a role for me in the specific position that I was in long-term,” said Berger, who led the GroupM agency’s investment practices unit (WPP's GroupM announced the merger of Essence with MediaCom in April 2022). “When you are competing on cost efficiencies and lowest rates and procurement exercises, I just got a bit tired of the rinse and repeat kind of work.”
It’s not just lower and mid-level employees being laid off at holding company agencies. Former Goodby, Silverstein & Partners creative executives David Suarez and Danny Gonzalez, who were let go from the agency in May, opened their own agency last month, Bandits & Friends, inspired by Greg Hahn’s Mischief@NoFixedAddress, formed after Hahn was famously let go by BBDO in 2020.
Read more: Ex-GS&P creative directors launch agency
McCann Worldgroup Global Executive Creative Director John Mescall departed the Interpublic Group of Cos. agency in August and has yet to announce his next move.