Havas went through a round of layoffs across its U.S. agencies this week due to the business impact of the coronavirus pandemic.
This included Havas Media, Arnold and other offices in New York, Boston and Chicago, according to a source with knowledge of Havas’ operations. It appears around 150 employees were impacted across these offices.
“Covid-19 has had a significant impact on several of our clients, varying greatly depending on business sector and geography. As a result, some of our agencies are impacted depending on their client portfolio. While we expect recovery for both our clients and therefore our industry, it appears it will not be a V-shaped curve and will undoubtedly take more time than hoped. Unfortunately, the result of this is job reductions in agencies whose clients were the hardest hit,” a Havas spokesperson said in a statement.
“These are painful decisions for any business. We all hoped they would never have to be made, as they come through no fault of any one of our valued employees. Through this, we’re committed to treating any impacted colleagues with the respect and consideration that they deserve, we thank them for their contribution and we will do what we can to support them as they transition to their next chapter,” the representative added. ”While there is great sadness in any of our agencies reaching this point, we have great confidence in the future.”
While IPG, Omnicom and WPP all made announcements about layoffs and furloughs across agencies in April, and Publicis Groupe announced furloughs and other cost-cutting measures in April followed by a series of layoffs across certain Publicis Groupe agencies in May, Havas had until now resisted such measures.
The nature of Havas’ ownership model with Vivendi allowed it to hold off on the layoffs, and Havas did so in the hopes that it could prevent such job losses and be well poised for a recovery, according to the source, who added that previous cost-cutting measures included dramatic cuts in discretionary and freelance spending and salary reductions varying by agency. Ultimately these steps were not enough to prevent layoffs. Severance was given to employees who were laid off, while healthcare coverage extensions varied by agency, according to this source.