Latest agency layoffs and furlough measures in response to the pandemic
As businesses remain closed, events shut down and a significant portion of advertising is put on pause due to the coronavirus pandemic, agencies and holding companies have begun implementing layoffs and furloughs, among other cost-cutting measures.
This is a continually updated blog dedicated to tracking the agencies that have undergone furloughs and staff cuts. It will be updated as the situation develops, with the latest news on top. If you have news to share on this topic, email [email protected]. For other ways agencies are responding and adapting to the pandemic, check out this tracker; and for a frequently updated list of how marketers are responding, click here.
September 2, 2020
5:49 PM EDT
Droga5 cuts 7 percent of U.S. staff
Accenture Interactive-owned Droga5 has confirmed it cut 7 percent of its U.S. staff. Business Insider, which first reported the layoffs, said the cuts were concentrated in the agency's New York headquarters and affected about 40 people across all levels and departments.
"Droga5 has made the decision to transition out a number of our people as we continue managing our business for the long term to best serve our clients," an agency spokesperson said in a statement to Ad Age. "All of those affected will be provided severance benefits. We are grateful for all of their contributions to the agency."
Read more here.
July 21, 2020
10:31 PM EDT
Wieden+Kennedy lays off 11 percent of staff
Independent agency Wieden+Kennedy, which had been on a new business tear before the pandemic, is laying off 11 percent of worldwide staff due to client cutbacks, Ad Age has learned.
"We negotiated this as long as we could, but W+K and COVID-19 have reached an impasse," the agency said in a statement. "How long this will last seems to be anybody’s guess, so we have had to make some hard choices. We are saying goodbye to people that we love. ... Some raised their hands to leave, helping to save the jobs of others. Some received bad news graciously. Voluntary or not, everyone was given the softest landing possible. All of them are a loss to us. Any agency that gets them is lucky."
W+K had topped Ad Age's 2020 Agency A-List.
July 9, 2020
11:00 AM EDT
Havas Group cuts up to 200 jobs, mainly in the U.S.
Havas Group confirmed it laid off between 150 and 200 people across mainly its U.S. offices in Chicago, Boston and New York, blaming client spending cuts due to the pandemic. Havas said there were also staff cuts across three of its agencies in the U.K.
“COVID-19 has had a significant impact on several of our clients, varying greatly depending on business sector and geography,” a Havas spokesperson said in a statement. “As a result, some of our agencies are impacted depending on their client portfolio. While we expect recovery for both our clients and therefore our industry, it appears it will not be a ‘V’ shaped curve and will undoubtedly take more time than hoped.”
The spokesperson continued, “Unfortunately, the result of this is job reductions in agencies whose clients were the hardest hit. These are painful decisions for any business. We all hoped they would never have to be made, as they come through no fault of any one of our valued employees. Through this, we’re committed to treating any impacted colleagues with the respect and consideration that they deserve, we thank them for their contribution and we will do what we can to support them as they transition to their next chapter. While there is great sadness in any of our agencies reaching this point, we have great confidence in the future.”
June 8, 2020
3:11 PM EDT
D&AD announces layoffs, CEO resigns
The D&AD today announced a “significant reduction” in staff, blaming revenues “dramatically” declining due to the pandemic. Amid the layoffs, D&AD CEO Patrick Burgoyne also “unselfishly volunteered to relinquish his role and step down,” the organization said. Longtime Chief Operating Officer Dara Lynch will assume Burgoyne's responsibilities. When asked how many people would be affected by the layoffs, a D&AD spokesperson told Ad Age the organization wouldn't know until a “staffing review” is completed, which could take up to a month.
“Like many thousands of other businesses around the world we have seen our revenues dramatically reduce during the pandemic,” D&AD said. “Businesses like ours, which are in part events companies, have been badly hit. As a consequence we have had to develop a survival plan. A key part of that plan includes a significant reduction in our staff numbers; and this also means we have had to reconfigure our senior management team.”
June 2, 2020
5:15 PM EDT
Edelman cuts 7 percent of staff
Edelman laid off around 390 people, representing about 7 percent of its staff, as the COVID-19 pandemic has led to a widespread revenue downturn, according to an internal email obtained by Crain’s Chicago Business reporter Dalton Barker. A spokesperson for Edelman, co-headquartered in Chicago and New York, declined to detail the layoffs by office location. However, one person close to the situation told Barker that 5 percent of U.S. employees were laid off. The move reverses a prior management declaration to staff in March that no job losses would take place due to the pandemic. According to the memo, the business was operating at an 11 percent margin in March as the pandemic spread throughout the U.S., writes Barker.
May 21, 2020
1:17 PM EDT
Saatchi & Saatchi cuts jobs
Saatchi & Saatchi laid off employees in its Dallas and Los Angeles offices, Ad Age has learned. One person close to the business estimates that 50 to 75 people were cut. A Saatchi & Saatchi spokesperson declined to comment. It is unclear exactly when the layoffs occurred but the news comes after Ad Age learned Publicis Groupe implemented staff cuts, furloughs and salary reductions last week across several of its agencies, including Epsilon, Spark Foundry, Hawkeye and Arc Worldwide. BBH also recently cut 20 percent of U.S. staff.
May 12, 2020
5:40 PM EDT
VaynerMedia and Weber Shandwick cut jobs
VaynerMedia and Interpublic Group of Cos.' Weber Shandwick are the latest agencies to conduct staff cuts. A VaynerMedia spokesperson confirmed that the agency “went through some additional staff reductions” on May 5. The spokesperson said less than 2 percent of staff was cut in the latest round. VaynerMedia had previously laid off about 5 percent of staff in April, due to the coronavirus pandemic. “Our people are our greatest asset at VaynerMedia and we are making every effort to protect them,” Founder-CEO Gary Vaynerchuk said in a statement. “However, as this global pandemic continues to impact our industry, we are having to adjust our business accordingly. Unfortunately, this led to the difficult decision of making some additional staff reductions.”
Weber Shandwick confirmed that it recently carried out layoffs, as well as furloughs and salary reductions, but declined to say how many employees were affected. “Unfortunately, given the increasingly challenging environment, we have had to make additional difficult decisions, including position eliminations, furloughs and taking some employees to a reduced schedule,” the Weber Shandwick spokesperson said.
10:54 AM EDT
Golin cuts up to 5 percent of U.S. staff
Golin, a public relations firm within Interpublic Group of Cos., carried out layoffs across its U.S. offices on Monday, Ad Age learned. A spokesperson for the agency confirmed the layoffs, saying the cuts amounted to less than 5 percent of its U.S. staff and fewer than 25 people worldwide. Golin's U.S. offices are located in Atlanta, Chicago, Dallas, Los Angeles, Miami, New York, San Francisco and Washington, D.C.
“This week, we have unfortunately had to remove some full-time positions,” the spokesperson said in an email to Ad Age. “The total number of job losses at Golin is under 5 percent of our staff. We waited as long as we could to take this very difficult decision and in the U.S. we have extended the healthcare benefits to those affected and hired consultants to help our people find new employment.”
May 11, 2020
12:33 PM EDT
Publicis Groupe undergoes furloughs, layoffs and salary cuts
Publicis Groupe implemented staff cuts, furloughs and salary reductions last week across various of its U.S. agencies and several people close to the business tell Ad Age that employees are bracing for more layoffs this week. Those people said Epsilon, Spark Foundry, Hawkeye and Arc Worldwide were amongst the agencies affected by these measures.
Last week, Ad Age also learned that BBH cut 20 percent of its U.S. staff. Publicis Sapient, Digitas, and Rokkan cut staff, as well, according to Business Insider, which first reported news of the layoffs. Ron Magliocco, a senior VP with Epsilon who was part of Arc Worldwide—which focuses on retail and has clients such as CVS Pharmacy, Coca-Cola, Intel and MillerCoors—was perhaps the most senior-level person let go, Ad Age learned.
Publicis declined to comment but one person close to the business claimed only about 1 percent of U.S. staff was cut last week. The person also said the layoffs were "isolated agency measures" versus holding company-wide and that many agencies did not undergo any layoffs. Still, people close to the matter said cost-cutting measures including furloughs and salary cuts were carried out across the holding company.
9:55 AM EDT
GroupM eliminates jobs across network
GroupM, WPP's media investment group, confirmed it recently implemented a round of layoffs across its network. A spokesperson for the company declined to go into detail so it is unclear how many people were affected. “We are working hard to limit the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on our people, while protecting the health of our business as a whole,” a GroupM spokesperson said. “This has included senior salary sacrifices and other cost-saving measures. Unfortunately, despite these efforts, in some markets we will have to make staff reductions and part ways with talented employees. We are doing everything we can to support those colleagues who are affected during this very challenging time.”
May 5, 2020
6:15 PM EDT
BBH cuts 20 percent of U.S. staff
BBH implemented layoffs in New York and Los Angeles, cutting about 20 percent of its U.S. employee base, Ad Age learned. BBH employs 112 full-time employees in the U.S. BBH is the first Publicis Groupe agency to confirm layoffs related to the pandemic. "COVID-19 has had a profound impact on the global business landscape," Neil Munn, group CEO of BBH, said in a statement. "Regrettably, we will be restructuring our business in line with the new realities, to ensure we have the right set-up to meet future challenges and opportunities.”
May 1, 2020
5:18 PM EDT
MediaLink succumbs to layoffs, furloughs
MediaLink Founder-CEO Michael Kassan confirmed to Ad Age that the strategic advisory firm furloughed some staff in its events and executive search groups as well as laid off a "small number" of employees. Kassan declined to say how many people were affected, or whether the permanent staff cuts were also concentrated in the events and executive search divisions of the business. He added that "senior executives including myself will take some significant [salary] reductions in order to maintain responsible [staff] reductions."
4:23 PM EDT
Johannes Leonardo confirms layoffs
Johannes Leonardo confirmed it laid off a portion of staff on April 30. The agency did not say how many employees were affected.
"No one has been above the profound impact that COVID-19 has had on our industry, including us," an agency spokesperson said. "As such, we have had to make adjustments in order to react to the changing needs of our business. Unfortunately there was no scenario forward without making the impossible decision to say goodbye to some of our valued employees. We want to thank all of those impacted for their incredible contribution to our agency.”
2:00 PM EDT
R/GA cuts 10 percent of staff, furloughs others
IPG's R/GA confirmed that it laid off 10 percent of employees as well as furloughed "some staff" across its U.S. offices. A spokesperson did not say how many employees were furloughed. The cuts were initiated today.
"This was neither an easy, nor a simple decision. It was important to us to provide all the support we could to those leaving, and are offering everyone at least four weeks of severance, healthcare coverage until the end of the year, and resume writing, interviewing, and networking services," Global CEO Sean Lyons said in a statement. "We’re grateful for the work of each of the very talented people leaving us and their contributions to shaping this iteration of R/GA."
April 29, 2020
7:02 AM EDT
WPP makes further cuts to salaries, jobs
In its first-quarter earnings report, WPP said it had recently implemented further cost-cutting measures including reducing "headcount in certain areas." This comes after WPP CEO Mark Read recently warned that the holding company may have to resort to layoffs in an interview with Ad Age. Read had said: “Our principle is: protect our people to protect the company, so we’re ready when we come out on the other side of this ... but, realistically, we have to expect there will be layoffs."
WPP, which reported that its like-for-like revenue less pass-through costs fell by 7.9 percent in March due to the pandemic, also said it had implemented voluntary "salary sacrifice and part-time working. Over 3,000 people with salaries above certain levels have already committed to give up 10-20% of their salary for an initial three-month period," according to the company.
April 23, 2020
11:30 AM EDT
Wasserman implements layoffs and furloughs
Wasserman, the Los Angeles-based sports marketing and talent management company, confirmed to Ad Age that it has taken several cost-cutting initiatives, including furloughs and layoffs across the organization and its subsidiary agencies. The owner of agencies such as Laundry Service, Cycle and The Collective said it furloughed 5 percent of staff and laid off an additional 3 percent of its global workforce.
"The company has taken steps to protect its business and global workforce amidst the global pandemic," a statement from Wasserman read. "In doing so: [Founder and CEO] Casey Wasserman has forfeited his salary and his executive leadership has eliminated bonuses and deferred salaries. The company has also furloughed 5 percent of its global workforce and terminated an additional 3 percent."
April 21, 2020
10:12 PM EDT
VaynerMedia cuts 5 percent of staff
VaynerMedia laid off about 5 percent of staff on Friday, due to pressures on the business from the coronavirus pandemic. The agency had already cut a portion of staff two weeks ago in a restructuring move not related to COVID-19, according to one person close to the business.
“As an industry, we are navigating through an unprecedented time as this global pandemic continues to impact our clients’ businesses,” VaynerMedia Founder-CEO Gary Vaynerchuk said. “At VaynerMedia, we are doing our best to adjust to our clients’ needs and the reality of the situation. Unfortunately, this has led to the difficult decision to make some staff reductions across certain areas of the agency, based on business needs. We are actively looking at reducing all costs within every area of the organization in an effort to minimize impact and VaynerMedia remains committed to taking care of both our people and our clients.”
April 16, 2020
4:42 PM EDT
CPB undergoes furloughs and layoffs
MDC's CPB confirmed that it has furloughed and laid off some staff. “Like everyone across the industry, we’ve been affected by the global pandemic," CPB Global CEO Erik Sollenberg said. "We have made the difficult yet unavoidable decision to furlough a portion of our staff, and lay off a small group. We’ve done everything possible to furlough instead of letting go of staff so that we can bring people back when circumstances improve. This is a necessary step so that we may continue to offer our clients the best service while planning for the future. Our people are our most valuable asset and we feel for them as well as everyone affected by this situation around the world.”
12:06 PM EDT
IPG's McCann Worldgroup confirms staff cuts
McCann Worldgroup Chairman-CEO Harris Diamond confirmed to Ad Age that the group has undergone "reductions in staffing" in certain areas of the business.
"The current health crisis is constantly evolving, and creating significant economic impact," Diamond said. "As we navigate through this, we are taking a series of steps to ensure we can appropriately support our clients as well as the long-term vitality of the agency. A variety of actions across our agencies are being implemented that include salary cuts, freezes on hiring and temporary labor, major cuts on nonessential spending, and furloughs in markets where that option is available.
He continued, "Unfortunately, reductions in staffing levels are also taking place in certain areas of the business. These are difficult decisions made in difficult times. Our goal is to service our clients while protecting as many jobs as we can, and we will of course provide as much support as possible."
9:30 AM EDT
Omnicom Group conducts layoffs across agencies
Omnicom underwent rounds of layoffs across its agencies just days after Chairman-CEO John Wren warned that furloughs and layoffs were imminent across the group. BBDO Worldwide laid off two of its top execs—New York Chief Creative Officer Greg Hahn and Exec VP-Director of Integrated Production Dave Rolfe—and Ad Age has learned other Omnicom agencies including TBWA, Zimmerman and DDB were impacted as well. Spokespeople for DDB and Zimmerman declined to comment.
BBDO North America Chairman David Lubars said, "I'm too heartbroken to comment."
One person familiar with the situation told Ad Age that, at TBWA, the staff reductions are a mix of layoffs and furloughs and will be conducted over the course of two days.
"COVID-19 continues to impact all of us," a TBWA spokesperson said. "In the last few weeks, we have had to make adjustments to our workforce due to reduced client spending. The actions we have taken include cutting discretionary costs, salary reductions, shortened workweeks and, as of today, furloughs and staff reductions."
The spokesperson continued, "Our people are at the heart of our business and that makes these decisions extremely difficult. We are grateful for the contributions of our colleagues who are leaving us this week and will be doing all we can to support them during this transition."
April 15, 2020
5:30 PM EDT
Grey New York furloughs staff
WPP's Grey will be furloughing about 3.5 percent of its staff in New York, Ad Age has learned. People close to the agency said the furloughs are expected to last approximately three months. A Grey spokesperson declined to comment on the specific cost-cutting measures.
"Grey has had a strong start to 2020 with the Discover win, among others," a Grey spokesperson said. "We're using all levers possible to protect jobs and be ready to ramp up in [the third quarter] when the economic climate improves."
April 13, 2020
4:30 PM EDT
Dentsu Aegis Network confirms furloughs
Dentsu Aegis Network confirmed that it has initiated salary reductions and furloughs across the holding company and its individual agencies, which include 360i, mcgarrybowen, Carat, Isobar and iProspect.
Adweek first reported the news, saying that there were also layoffs that hit certain agencies and that the holding company set benchmarks for the measures that varied among the individual shops. A Dentsu Aegis Network spokesperson declined to comment on the layoffs. The furloughs, the spokesperson told Ad Age, were implemented "as a means to protect jobs and safeguard livelihoods."
One person close to the matter told Ad Age that the furloughs were put in place for one quarter.
"Since the coronavirus outbreak, Dentsu Aegis Network’s primary priority has been to protect our people, preserve and nurture our client relationships and to support the local economies and communities in which we operate," the Dentsu Aegis Network spokesperson said. "As a result of COVID-19 business impacts, we are activating a set of cost-saving measures across the company to ensure business continuity and to safeguard our people’s livelihoods around the world. We consider our people to be our greatest strength and are doing everything we can to ensure we have a healthy and sustainable business for them and our clients after this crisis passes.”
April 9, 2020
5:00 PM EDT
MullenLowe lays off 10 percent of staff
Interpublic Group of Cos.' MullenLowe has cut 10 percent of its U.S. staff due to financial difficulties related to the coronavirus pandemic, Ad Age has learned. MullenLowe declined to comment.
People close to the business say the layoffs were conducted across all of MullenLowe's domestic offices in New York, Los Angeles, Boston and Winston-Salem, North Carolina. Those people say senior executives have also taken a pay cut and the agency has frozen new hires and raises. Laid off employees will receive three months' extended healthcare, according to people familiar with the matter.
March 20, 2020
5:30 PM EDT
Giant Spoon lays off 20 percent of staff
Independent agency Giant Spoon has laid off 20 percent of its staff due to the coronavirus pandemic's negative impact on its experiential business.
The agency behind some of the biggest SXSW activations in recent years, including "Bleed For the Throne" in 2019 and "SXSWestworld" in 2018, said in a statement that "the COVID-19 pandemic has done serious damage to our experiential business," forcing the layoffs. Giant Spoon said that it has been "forced to halt production on several 2020 experiential projects." All of the laid off employees will receive six months of healthcare coverage, according to the agency.
“We are deeply saddened to have made the decision to reduce our full-time headcount," an agency spokesperson said in a statement. "Our priority is on those we're parting with as we adjust our business in real time, our existing clients and teams. The bottom line is the direct and widespread impact caused by the COVID-19 pandemic has done serious damage to our experiential business, which now consists of a core team including leadership, who are working to help clients find digital paths forward. There are no words to soften the pain inflicted on the people most directly affected by this situation."
March 13, 2020
11:30 AM EDT
Anomaly undergoes layoffs
Anomaly Founding Partner and Executive Chairman Carl Johnson confirmed that the MDC agency laid off 22 employees due to the pandemic and said that “most” executives in its New York office have taken a temporary 10 percent pay cut.
“Anyone who can read, listen or watch the news knows that we are in extraordinary times—as are our clients and the economy,” Johnson said. “No one is immune from the impact and, consequently, in response to a tough business context caused by the coronavirus directly impacting our clients, we have had to let a number of people go—22. In addition, most people in the New York office have taken a temporary 10 percent pay cut, including founding partners, partners, department heads and all group leaders.”
He added, “It sucks, but being naive or in denial would suck more. As you’d expect from a decent company, we have ensured anyone leaving will have six months' healthcare.”