Internal Memo: Omnicom CEO John Wren Addresses Furloughs, Layoffs, Salary Reductions and Other Cost-Cutting Measures

By Erik Oster 

Omnicom CEO John Wren sent a holding companywide internal memo today, which was obtained by Adweek, addressing cost-cutting measures including furloughs and layoffs across Omnicom agencies.

In the memo, Wren addressed the profound impact of the coronavirus pandemic on clients’ businesses, and the effect on Omnicom, citing the need to “respond quickly to the reality of the moment, to ensure the sustainability of our business and our ability to continue to provide our clients with outstanding service.”

“Since my last note to you, we have solidified some of the internal measures to adjust our business to meet the changing needs of our clients,” Wren explains, acknowledging that such measures will include furloughs and layoffs across many Omnicom agencies.

“Where possible, our agencies will use furloughs rather than permanent reductions, so we can bring people back if, and when, conditions improve and client demand recovers,” he stresses, adding that agencies will participate in government subsidy programs, in markets where they are available, to avoid layoffs.

He also outlines a series of other measures, including salary reductions of one-third for executive leadership team members, including network and practice area CEOs. Wren himself has opted to waive 100% of his salary through the end of September. Wren also claims that Omnicom has “stopped all new hires, frozen salaries and reduced the number of freelancers we use,” with “few exceptions,” and has eliminated “discretionary costs and capital expenditures wherever possible, including participation in award shows and industry events.”

Additionally, he states that Omnicom has suspended its share repurchase program, strengthened its liquidity position through new financings and is conserving cash “wherever possible.” He also notes that Omnicom is actively attempting to move employees into growing areas of the business, such as Omnicom Health Group, and has expanded coverage in its health benefit plans for those affected by COVID-19.

“You are the heart of our business, and that makes these actions extremely difficult. We have survived crises before,” Wren says. He concludes by thanking employees for their hard work and commitment and telling them to “Stay home. Stay safe.”

Here’s the memo in full:

A message from John Wren, Chairman and CEO

April 14, 2020

As the impact of COVID-19 continues to evolve, we are focused on protecting the safety and well-being of our people, continuing to serve our clients and preserving the strength of our business.

I have personally heard from clients around the globe just how much they value the work you are doing in their time of need. Thank you for everything you are doing, despite all the challenges.

Unfortunately, COVID-19 has had a profound impact on the economy, on our clients’ businesses, and in turn, on ours. While we hope for a swift recovery, we have to respond quickly to the reality of the moment, to ensure the sustainability of our business and our ability to continue to provide our clients with outstanding service.

Since my last note to you, we have solidified some of the internal measures to adjust our business to meet the changing needs of our clients. Regrettably, this will include furloughs and staff reductions across many of our agencies. We are doing everything we can to limit staff reductions, and to take care of those who are affected.

· Where possible, our agencies will use furloughs rather than permanent reductions, so we can bring people back if, and when, conditions improve and client demand recovers.

· Our agencies will participate in government subsidy programs around the world to reduce the number of permanent staff reductions we need to make.

· We have expanded coverage in our U.S. health benefit plans for those affected by COVID-19.

· We are actively looking to move people into areas of our business that are growing, such as Omnicom Health Group.

· Omnicom’s executive leadership team, including our Network and Practice Area CEOs, are reducing their salaries by a third, and I am waiving 100% of my salary, through the end of September.

· With few exceptions, we have stopped all new hires, frozen salaries, and reduced the number of freelancers we use.

· We are eliminating discretionary costs and capital expenditures, wherever possible, including participation in award shows and industry events.

· Lastly, we have suspended our share repurchase program, have strengthened our liquidity position through new financings, and are conserving cash wherever possible.

You are the heart of our business and that makes these actions extremely difficult. We have survived crises before. Our people and our company have shown tremendous grit and resilience and we will come out of this stronger.

Thank you for your hard work and commitment during this difficult time.

Stay home. Stay safe.

John

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