Paris-based agencies deal with loss of colleagues

French agency networks Havas and Publicis in mourning following deaths of at least six staffers in Friday's terrorist attacks.

Image from Ogilvy Paris' Facebook page.
Image from Ogilvy Paris' Facebook page.

PARIS: Following Friday’s terrorist attacks on Paris, which claimed more than 120 lives, PR and advertising firms tried to conduct business as usual on Monday, despite the loss of at least six of their own.

Publicis lost two creative directors in the attacks - Fabrice Dubois and Yannick Minvielle. Three other staffers are still hospitalized.

Over the weekend, Publicis Groupe chairman and CEO Maurice Levy and Publicis Worldwide CEO Arthur Sadoun sent internal memos to staffers. Psychological support is also being provided to employees who need it.

"Paris was witness to a night of terror attacks that have brought darkness upon many families," Levy wrote in a memo on Saturday. "Our professional family was not saved from this blind, murderous madness and it is with extreme difficulty and sadness that I inform you that we have lost one of our colleagues, Fabrice Dubois."

Dubois was 46-years-old and married with two children. He joined the network’s creative and digital firm Publicis Conseil as creative director 12 years ago.

"All those who knew him were able to appreciate his unmatched talent, his willingness to be available, and his great kindness," Levy wrote."It is a horrible loss for his family, his dear ones, and for our larger family as a whole."

He added that, since the attacks, Publicis has been trying to keep track of colleagues and are "unfortunately without news from some of them" and hope they will "resurface quickly safe and sound."

He ended the memo by offering support and solidarity to staffers across the firm.

On Sunday, Sadoun sent out an email to employees about Publicis RED creative director Minvielle’s death.

Minvielle was severely injured during the attacks at Paris’ Bataclan Concert Hall venue, where American rock band Eagles of Death Metal were performing, and died over the weekend.

"It's a terrible loss for his young son, loved ones and all of us at Publicis," wrote Sadoun. "Our deepest condolences go out to his family and those whose lives were touched by him." 

Sadoun thanked staffers for the "countless messages" of love and support from across the globe.

"We've been overwhelmed by the words and kindness of the entire Publicis family, which have provided moments of hope and optimism at this dark time," Sadoun wrote.

Havas Group CEO Yannick Bolloré, meanwhile, tweeted in memory of the four employees at France’s other major marketing services holding company who perished in the attack.

"People really need to go back to their lives and speak to each other and share their views of what happened," Grayling France CEO Rémy Debrant told PRWeek.

Debrant explained that, although "the faces of Parisians are joyless" following the tragedy, the nation has bonded together and colleagues from around the world have been sending Grayling France messages of support.

"The support makes us feel like we are not alone," he said.

Grayling France was one of several agencies to tweet images expressing solidarity.

Grayling was also among many firms and individuals who retweeted pleas for blood donors to come forward in the immediate aftermath of the attacks.

Ogilvy also kept its doors open on Monday, Eric Maillard, MD of Ogilvy PR in France, told PRWeek via email.

"Luckily, the team is safe; shocked, but safe," added Maillard.

Firms interviewed took part in a national moment of silence, observed at noon Paris time on Monday. Staffers around the world, time-permitting, also took part.

Minute's silence

Posted by Ogilvy Paris on Monday, November 16, 2015

MSLGroup CEO Guillaume Herbette thanked well-wishers for their support in a blog post on Monday.

"As a network of professional communicators whose life’s work is to bring people together through stronger connections and relationships, the senseless violence on Friday evening is painful to see and impossible to comprehend," he wrote. "It goes against every grain of our being."

Alois Nuffer, head of corporate at Golin Paris, retweeted an image expressing pride in the French way of life.

PRWeek reached out to more than a dozen agencies with offices in the French capital, but many were reluctant to discuss their response to the attacks.

Diana Bradley, Sam Burne James, Anna Reynolds, and Frank Washkuch contributed to this report. This story was updated on November 17 to correct the number of Publicis employees still hospitalized. That number is three.

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