Agencies tell staff to work from home as coronavirus crisis escalates

David Prior's picture

WPP and Omnicom are among a number of employers to have introduced a work-from-home policy for all staff in the wake of the escalating coronavirus crisis.

WPP, the world's biggest advertising company with 130,000 employees, owns agencies including MediaCom, Grey, Ogilvy, VMLY&R, and Wunderman Thompson.

Its global CEO, Mark Read, emailed staff at the end of week, saying: "Next week your leadership teams will provide you with more detailed information on the roll-out of Managed Remote Working in your company, what it means for you and how we will support you.

"It is important to state that we remain open for business. I have great faith in each of you to adapt to this new way of working and know we will continue to meet our responsibilities to our clients and each other.

“The next few months will be tough, but I have every confidence in our ability to come through this situation together."

John Wren, CEO at Omnicom whose agencies including TBWA\London and Manning Gottlieb OMD, has also emailed its 70,000 employees to confirm it would be moving to a work-from-home policy from today.

He said: "We are asking for the support of our agency leaders to make certain our people work remotely and only essential staff go into the office.

"If you have not done so already, please ensure in the next day or so that you collect what you need to work from home. In addition, we are encouraging all of you to follow the guidance of national, local and city regulatory authorities."

Digital marketing and ad agency Cheil UK has also sent staff home.

Its chief executive, Peter Zillig, said: "This will initially be for one week only and we will evaluate the situation at the end of next week to decide whether to extend this working from home period. This is a proactive step to protect employees and the business.

"In the meantime it is business as usual, and we will keep our clients and partners informed of further changes or extension to this period."

Publicis Groupe chairman and chief executive Arthur Sadoun has used a video message to urge the ad industry to adopt a new approach to supporting clients faced with the impact of Covid-19.

In the video, Sadoun thanked Publicis staff for their "time, patience and solidarity" and said that "now, more than ever, we need to stay close to our clients and their business, even if we can’t be with them in person".

Publicis Groupe CEO and chairman Arthur Sadoun, meanwhile, has addressed the issue in a video message to staff.

In the video, “Taking Care Together”, he called on staff to "stay close to our clients and their business, even if we can't be with them in person".

He said the network - whose agencies include Zenith, Starcom, Blue 449 and Digitas - had the "solid foundations and agile structure to adapt to the challenges we are facing together".

Sadoun added: "I know the incredible efforts you are already making to accompany them in this challenging time. As we all navigate this unprecedented situation together, and actually discover new ways of working, our role is to help them monitor events, to take the right strategy decisions, maximise their investment for short-term goals and prepare for a pivot, once the crisis is over."