A message from global agency heads during COVID-19

exchange4media spoke to global leaders to find out how they are preparing their teams when ad business is weakening in several countries due to the pandemic

e4m by Neeta Nair
Updated: Apr 9, 2020 8:40 AM
COVID19

It is a known fact that the ad business across the world has taken a serious hit over the past few months owing to the COVID-19 scare, and last week Cannes Lions International Festival of Advertising, which is considered the Mecca for advertising was cancelled for the very first time since its outing in 1954. During such testing times, exchange4media spoke to some global heads to understand how they are keeping their agencies together and their heads above water.

Speaking to e4m, Susan Credle, Chief Creative Officer, FCB Global says, “A few years ago, I told my work partner, Carter Murray, the world will come together when we experience a global crisis. I was thinking an alien attack at the time. COVID 19, so far, has brought out the best in many of us. I find that we are working better together, apart. People are putting humanity into technology and virtual worlds. I’m getting to know my colleagues in a way I never knew them before. We are kinder and more patient for the most part. Empathy is at an all-time high because we all can relate.”

While for the larger good, a few days ago, amidst growing concerns over COVID-19, Cannes Lion International Festival of Creativity was cancelled altogether, after it was earlier postponed to October 26-30. Philip Thomas, the Chairman, Cannes Lions, explained, “Cannes Lions at its core has always been about creativity and the Lions. We realise that the creative community has other challenges to face, and simply isn’t in a position to put forward the work that will set the benchmark. We have tried to make our decisions as early as possible to give the industry total clarity on the situation, and that is why we are announcing this move.”

Reacting to that Gordon Bowen, Founder and Global Chairman, mcgarrybowen and Global Chief Creative Officer of Dentsu told exchange4media, “I commend the Cannes organization for making the difficult, but right decision in the midst of the global crisis we are all facing. The Festival itself may have been cancelled, but the true heart of Cannes is about a celebration of creativity. And, never has creativity been tested or been more important than it is right now. Our industry has the power to bring awareness and save lives now, and later we will be on the front lines to restore faith in the economy and our brands.”

Adding to that Credle says, “When Cannes was cancelled, there was a sigh of relief across our community. We love celebrating creativity and our colleagues, but as leaders, we have so much more to think about right now. Being able to focus on learning how to Work From Home, planning for the worst-case scenario, trying to keep the economy moving is critical moving forward. Cannes recognized this with their cancellation. Creatives love to solve problems. The world has a lot of problems to solve today. I cannot wait to see the ingenuity of our industry in the coming months. Meaningful work that helps people and businesses to work through this crisis will reignite the importance of partnerships and the power of creativity. And that is good news for Cannes in 2021.”

 A week ago, WPP said that it was planning to cut down on the costs by halting award entries and stopping discretionary costs, including travel and hotels amongst other things. IPG and Publicis withdrew their guidance for financial performance for 2020. Earlier IPG had said that it was targeting full-year organic revenue growth of 3%, while Publicis was targeting organic growth of between -2% and +1%. If a definite end was in sight, things would be have been easier to deal with, but right now the uncertainty of it all is playing the role of the biggest villain.

 Stephen Allan, Worldwide Chairman and CEO, Mediacom sums it up, “Our challenge is that coronavirus is forcing fundamental changes on us at a faster rate than ever before and that adds to the emotional and psychological stress that many are experiencing. I’m hugely proud of the way our teams have adapted to working from home and also extend my particular thanks to the very small number of key staff members who are still working on-site in some of our offices to manage our systems and ensure that we can continue to deliver high-quality work. It has taken a huge amount of effort to test our systems in advance of this crisis and, while I am sure there will be a few hiccups along the way, on the whole things seem to be running as smoothly as ever.”

 

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