BBDO has implemented a significant number of lay-offs, salary slashes and furloughs to help stabilise the network amid COVID-19, Campaign US has learned.
The cost-cutting measures are far-reaching and vary in severity across markets as COVID-19 continues to ravage economies at different intensities.
It is believed that BBDO’s North America presence lost a swath of high-level talent. Exact numbers are not clear at this stage, however, the New York office laid off somewhere near the high double digits, but no more than 100, say people with knowledge of the matter.
Among the high-level layoffs is Greg Hahn, BBDO New York’s chief creative officer for the past seven years.
Hahn has been with the agency for nearly 15 years and has helped produce some of its most iconic campaigns for top brands. Some of his early BBDO work includes HBO Voyeur, which picked up Grand Prix in two categories at Cannes, as well as five Golds, a Silver and a Bronze.
Hahn was laid off on Wednesday (April 15) when leadership implemented a number of staff reductions, salary cuts and furloughs across most markets.
BBDO President and CEO Andrew Robertson explained: "As John said in his note, this virus is having, and will continue to have, a profound effect on the economy, on our clients’ businesses, and therefore on ours.
"Nobody really knows how deep, how long, or how much time it will take to recover. And of course it varies to some degree by vertical and by market.
"Instead of simply hoping for the best, and planning for that, we have taken a very hard look at what we think will happen in both the short and the medium term and taken measures, around the world, to prepare for those scenarios. That means reshaping our agencies, both in terms of capacity, but also capability, to be competitive for what we think lies ahead. We’ve had to take some tough decisions on pay cuts, furloughs, and, regrettably, permanent reductions."
The measures, which were put in place on Wednesday, come after Omnicom Group CEO John Wren sent a memo to all 70,000 staff explaining that staff reductions, salary cuts and furloughs were inevitable at this stage.
Robertson added: "I’ve been really impressed by, and am grateful for, the willingness of our agency leaders around the world to face into these challenges and do what needs to be done, and by the continued understanding and commitment of our people.
"One of our core people values is ‘they bounce back.’ In this business you can’t avoid or duck all the punches. But your ability to take them and bounce back up is what matters."