How Holding Companies Are Addressing Coronavirus

Most have suspended travel to high-risk areas

A circle featuring logos from Publicis Groupe, WPP, Interpublic Group and Havas
Advertising's global holding companies are taking steps to address the coronavirus outbreak.
Sources: Getty Images, Publicis, WPP, IPG, Havas

Key insights:

Advertising’s major holding companies are beginning to implement travel guidelines, policies and restrictions related to the coronavirus as the pandemic continues to spread globally.

Roughly 170,000 people have contracted COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, while more than 6,000 have died, according to The New York Times. The vast majority of cases are in China, but the illness has spread to every continent except Antarctica.

Many of the holding companies have enacted travel restrictions to impacted countries for the time being and are allowing employees to work from home.

Dentsu Aegis Network

Dentsu Aegis Network said in a statement that it has “put in place ongoing health and safety measures,” including travel restrictions and remote working where appropriate based on local government guidance.

“We have a robust business continuity team who are working at global, regional and local level to safeguard our people and react in an expedited way, where required,” the statement said. “We are continuously monitoring the situation, particularly regarding high risk markets and are adopting all local government recommendations. We hope all our people, clients and the local communities which we are a part of stay well during this difficult time.”

Last month, Dentsu Inc. closed its headquarters in Tokyo after an employee contracted COVID-19. At this time, employees are still required to work from home.

Havas Group

Havas has suspended business travel to and from “high-risk exposure areas” until further notice. To date, these areas include Greater China, Singapore, South Korea and regions of Italy, including Lombardy and Veneto.

Additionally, anyone returning from a business trip, personal trip or stop-over in these areas must adhere to a “14-day confinement period” upon their return. These employees can either work from home or take time off, according to Havas.

Update as of March 13

According to a Havas spokesperson, the holding company has “instituted an optional work from home policy as well as several new protocols” but did not expand further.

Update as of March 16

A Havas spokesperson said the company is “fully operational at this time and are deferring to regional protocols for certain specifics.” According to Havas, most of its staff globally is working remotely. It has also adjusted travel policies and implemented new visitation protocol across its offices.

“We have incident response and health and safety teams in all of our offices that are working around the clock to be sure that our people and our businesses are safe,” the spokesperson said.

Interpublic Group

Interpublic Group has restricted all business travel to and from China and South Korea until further notice. According to a memo that was sent to employees last month, “business-critical exceptions will be considered on a case-by-case basis” by IPG’s chief risk officer as long as there is business justification and network CEO approval.

Any employees with recent travel to mainland China, South Korea or Italy are required to work from home for 14 days. Employees who have had recent close contact with someone who recently traveled from the aforementioned locations are also required to work from home for 14 days.

Employees who recently traveled to a country with community (person-to-person) transmission are being asked to self-monitor for signs of illness for 14 days.

“We currently do not have any offices that are closed, although some are operating under flexible working arrangements,” the memo said. “We continue to closely monitor developments and will update you accordingly. If you believe you or someone you’ve been in close contact with has the coronavirus, please seek medical treatment immediately and the local public health authorities will notify local Human Resources should the coronavirus be confirmed.”

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