NEW YORK: Interpublic Group agencies DeVries Global and Current Global have both cut staff in response to economic conditions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The economic impact of the global pandemic on our business has been notable, especially given the premium categories we excel in, including travel,” said Jessica O’Callaghan, DeVries’ North American MD, via email. “This week, we have unfortunately had to remove some full-time positions.”
The cuts eliminated “a small percentage” of DeVries’ staff, she said, adding that the firm has extended healthcare benefits to departing staffers in the U.S. and is working to help them find new jobs.
O’Callaghan did not say which areas of the agency were affected or if DeVries had taken other steps such as temporary furloughs or salary cuts.
Fellow Interpublic firm Current Global also has taken cost-cutting measures.
“Like many other agencies, we unfortunately had to make some very difficult staffing decisions to address the economic impact to our business as a result of the global pandemic,” wrote Virginia Devlin, co-CEO of Current Global, via email. “In addition to executive team pay cuts, we reduced schedules for some team members and instituted a very small number of short-term furloughs and layoffs.”
Current did not disclose specifics on pay or staffing cuts, though an agency spokesperson said the impact “was primarily in the U.S.,” which is the agency’s largest market.
In 2019, Current had 172 employees globally and 78 in the U.S., according to PRWeek’s Agency Business Report.
Devlin said this is the first time Current has had to make these staffing decisions, and that the agency hopes to “protect as many jobs as possible.”
Other Interpublic PR firms also eliminated positions this week. Weber Shandwick laid off and furloughed staff and cut the pay of top executives, and Golin also reduced staff and salaries in response to COVID-19 market conditions.
DeVries, Current, Golin and Weber are part of IPG’s Constituency Management Group, along with Rogers & Cowan/PMK and the Axis Agency. CMG also houses marketing specialist firms such as Jack Morton, FutureBrand and Octagon.
“Given the diversity of our agencies and their client portfolios, their offerings, client mix and geographic presence, the impact of the pandemic and our approach to protecting our businesses has and will continue to be quite different across many of our companies,” said CMG chairman and CEO Andy Polansky. “Our agencies are taking steps based on their particular business considerations, while minimizing the impact on our people as much as possible.”
Asked this week if the holding company has ordered job cuts, an IPG spokesperson said, “decisions are happening at the company level.” The spokesperson also pointed to Interpublic CEO Michael Roth’s statement after IPG’s Q1 earnings that “there is no one-size-fits-all approach to the appropriate combination of cost actions.”
Fellow CMG agency Rogers & Cowan/PMK did not respond when asked if it was cutting staff or salaries. A CMG spokesperson said Polansky’s statement addressed the situation at that agency.
A spokesperson for Los Angeles-based CMG multicultural shop the Axis Agency referred questions about staffing and salary cuts to Weber Shandwick.
“Every brand within our network is assessing their business and, in some cases, implementing a range of cost-savings measures,” said a Weber spokesperson. “Those measures vary, but are all being done through the lens of protecting people’s livelihoods as much as possible and delivering for our clients. We’re not going to comment further on specifics.”
DeVries’ revenue dropped 10% globally last year to $29.1 million, according to PRWeek’s Agency Business Report. Current’s revenue was up 30% to $17.9 million. Current Global was formed last April via the merger of IPG shops Current Marketing and Creation.
In Q1, the PR firms in CMG experienced low-single-digit growth organically and on an as-reported basis. CMG’s overall Q1 revenue grew 3.7% organically from last year to $307.6 million. Organic growth does not include the effects of acquisitions or disposals.
Overall, IPG’s Q1 net revenue dropped 1.6% to $1.97 billion from the prior year on an as-reported basis, but organic net revenue grew 0.3%. It reported net income of $4.7 million, compared to a loss a year ago of $8 million.
This story was updated on May 15 with additional information.