We Hear: Pay Freeze at Publicis Groupe

By Patrick Coffee 

While we don’t have much in the way of details and/or official responses at the moment, we hear that quite a few employees of Ye Olde Publicis Groupe are unhappy today.

Why, you ask? Our source claims that they were hit with an unexpected pay freeze this week. This is particularly problematic because raises–quite a few of them–were supposed to kick in on the 15th.

The reason our source complained to us is that some of the employees hit by the freeze thought they were on top of things, and the news comes on the heels of official announcements to the tune of “your raise will proceed as scheduled.” In other words, it was a last-minute change that forced some executives to put other plans on hold.

Why did Publicis (allegedly) stop scheduled raises in their tracks?

In last month’s Q1 revenue announcements, Maurice Levy sounded an optimistic note:

“Our revenue is up to slightly over 30%, partly due to the positive impact of exchange rates, and partly to the inclusion of Sapient since completing the acquisition. As we’ll continue to see, this is one of the important milestones of the Groupe’s transformation.

We expected organic growth to be slightly down this quarter, but, on the contrary, it is up almost 1%.”

He did, however, hint at a less-robust-than-hoped Q2:

“The second quarter will be better than the first, albeit with modest growth, as announced, that of the Groupe should be considerably stronger in the second half of the year.”

So maybe Publicis is simply being a bit more careful than expected in looking to minimize the cost of doing business for the current quarter and thereby ensure healthy growth numbers in the weeks to come.

Our source implies that the freeze applies across all Publicis agencies and concerns both “cost of living and promotional” bumps, but we can’t confirm that.

UPDATE: Publicis is VERY MAD at us for running this post. The holding company’s French office insists that no such pay freeze exists, though it’s quite obviously common practice throughout the industry. Make of that what you will.