34 roles ‘at risk’ of redundancy as Publicis Groupe exhausts other cost-cutting options

Publicis Groupe has admitted that 34 roles “in a small number of our agencies” are “at risk” of being made redundant as the holding group grapples with the impact of COVID-19 on media budgets and, therefore, revenue.

Since the middle of March, Publicis has “exhausted all cost-containment measures before considering making any roles redundant”, it said in a statement. “Through all these measures, we have made sure our employees at the entry and mid-level have been protected.”

Publicis is not alone in grappling with COVID-19’s economic impacts

The company added that it has “held the line on making redundancies for as long as possible”, and saved an estimated 80 jobs through a number of cost-saving measures, including restricting expenses and variable costs, asking staff to take annual leave, and a voluntary salary reduction from CEOs, managing directors, leadership teams, and senior staff.

It also pointed out that 34 possible redundancies constitutes 2% of its 1,570-strong workforce across Australia and New Zealand.

“Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic putting our people first has been our guiding philosophy; ensuring their safety and well-being, and protecting as many jobs as possible so that our team is in the best shape possible to help our clients through their recovery,” said Publicis Groupe’s regional chief executive, Michael Rebelo.

Some of those impacted by redundancies have been successfully redeployed to other agencies within the holding group, the company noted, and it continues to look for redeployment options for other affected staff.


For those unable to be redeployed, Publicis said its talent acquisition team has developed a redundancy support program, which includes information on financial support and money management, new career pathways, and mental health support services. Retrenched employees can ask an HR representative for advice on where to look for another job, have access to industry contacts and online training modules, and information on preparing for job interviews.

Imogen Hewitt, the chief executive officer of Spark Foundry, a Publicis Groupe media agency, told Mumbrella recently that the hardest part of her job has been “the very genuine responsibility that I feel for our people”.

“It is about their health and their safety, and it’s about their jobs. And that has been the most emotionally taxing part of this whole thing,” she said.

“There are brilliant people that work for this organisation and navigating this in a way that makes sure that we deliver the best possible outcome for them is the thing that has really been quite gut-wrenching.”

Ad spend funnelled through media agencies plummeted by 40% in May, justifying the industry’s continued implementation of cost-cutting strategies to protect revenues and workforces. The market is on track to lose $700m worth of spend in just three months, from April to June.

WPP AUNZ introduced a “menu” of voluntary pay cut options for its staff, and has made some redundancies. IPG Mediabrands has implemented a 10% reduction in hours and pay until the end of the year, and admitted to a small number of redundancies. And Omnicom Media Group has also resorted to stand downs and redundancies, as it expects revenue impacts to worsen across the year.


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