MSL reduces US staff, senior leaders take pay cut

The layoffs are happening amid cost-cutting measures at other Publicis Groupe firms.

MSL CEO Diana Littman
MSL CEO Diana Littman

NEW YORK: MSL has reduced staff in the U.S. and senior leaders at the agency have taken pay cuts in response to the economic conditions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. 

“We took this time to act on a restructure plan that continues to align the agency to the needs of our clients and the marketplace,” an agency spokesperson said in an emailed statement. “As part of that, we enacted a small reduction in staff last week. Our senior-most leaders also volunteered to take a pay reduction to maintain the strength of our team across the agency.”

MSL, the primary PR network of Publicis Groupe, did not disclose the number of employees laid off, nor which senior leaders reduced their pay or by how much. A source familiar with the matter said the firm laid off fewer than 12 staffers in the U.S. last week and pay reductions were volunteered at the same time. 

MSL had 251 U.S. employees in 2019, according to PRWeek’s Agency Business Report 2020

Other Publicis agencies in the U.S. have also reduced staff and started other cost-cutting measures amid the pandemic-induced economic crunch. Interactive media firm Second Story and digital shop Rokkan are also “realigning its talent, capabilities and work” with interactive network Razorfish amid layoffs at the two agencies, according to Campaign. 

A Publicis spokesperson did not say whether the holding company had asked for across-the-board staffing reductions or other cost-cutting measures since the pandemic began. Publicis CEO Arthur Sadoun said in mid-April after the holding company released its Q1 financial results that it would respond to the pandemic using the country-by-country model it put into place years ago. Publicis reported a 17.1% increase in net revenue and a 2.9% drop in organic growth in Q1. 

MSL’s revenue dipped 3% to $444.5 million last year, according to PRWeek’s Agency Business Report. In February, the agency decided to suspend its membership in the PR Council and reinvest the $50,000 tier-one membership fee back into the agency.  

This story was updated on May 11 to correct the number of staff laid off in the U.S.

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