—Leading groups seek to reassure staff amid continued military action and a rising death toll—
By Ben Bold
All of the big six advertising agency groups have expressed sympathy and offered support to staff following Hamas’ attacks on Israel and the likely prospect of war in the Gaza Strip.
About 1,200 people were killed in Israel during a wave of attacks by Hamas on Saturday (Oct. 7), and more than 1,000 Palestinians are believed to have died in subsequent Israeli air-strikes in Gaza.
Agency chiefs have written staff memos to reassure employees in their Israeli operations that they are doing all they can to support them.
Campaign has compiled a summary of responses from leading agency groups, all of which have some staff in Israel.
Arthur Sadoun, the chief executive of Publicis Groupe, wrote to “our Publicis Israel family” over the weekend, reaching out to “say you are in our thoughts”.
“During these difficult times, your safety is our number one priority,” he told staff. “While none of you have been directly impacted so far, we know that there will be implications particularly for those of you and your loved ones who will be called to active duty.”
He said Yossi Lubaton, chairman and chief executive of Publicis Groupe Israel, and the wider group, “will continue to be here for anything you need, and you can of course count on the support of the entire Groupe.”
He told staff in Israel that the group would “unequivocally stand by you in these tragic and trying times,” signing off by saying “take very good care of you and your families, and above all stay safe”.
A subsequent email sent to global staff was entitled “Standing with our teams in Israel.” It explained how on the previous morning, “444 of our Publicis team members woke up to bombs and rockets descending upon their homeland”.
Sadoun added he and Maurice Lévy, the chairman of the supervisory board, wanted staff to know “the Publicis community is by your side in the face of this attack. We stand with you in grief, pray for the injured and share your anguish for those held hostage”.
Havas chief executive Yannick Bolloré wrote to staff on Monday with a message of support to “our Havas colleagues in Israel.”
He told of how he had been in Tel Aviv the previous week to attend the wedding of a friend’s daughter. “It was a moment of joy and celebration. It’s always very moving to see the happiness of young people starting their own family in a beautiful country like Israel.”
He also described meeting with Chen Inbar, founding partner of Havas’s Inbar Merhhav, and Sagi Chemetz, the founder and chief executive of Blink Havas, with whom he said he had become friends after years of working together.
“Our deepest thoughts are with our more than 100 Havas colleagues on the ground and their loved ones. While we have no victims to mourn today, our hearts are heavy facing a situation that is escalating.”
He noted that with Israel declaring war, “some of our collaborators will be called to duty” and said that “times to come will certainly become increasingly difficult in the region”.
Interpublic Group chief executive Philippe Krakowsky told staff that the group has several agencies “with important operations in Israel,” and was thankful that “our people are safe, although the situation on the ground is volatile and remains dangerous, so we’ll stay in close contact with our leaders for additional information.”
He added: “Sadly, a number of our colleagues report that they have lost friends and family members as a result of the violence. There’s no adequate way to express the sympathy we feel for their loss, and our prayers go out to all who are in harm’s way. Violence is never the answer, just as its root causes must always be examined and addressed.”
While a resolution to the conflict would “likely be difficult and protracted… we’ve shared with local leadership that they will be able to count on our support”, he said.
Omnicom’s leadership sent a message addressed to staff in the region, highlighting that “our top priority is the safety and well-being of our people”.
The message added: “Omnicom and our agencies are offering any assistance to our staff and their families wanting or needing to leave the region as quickly as possible. For those struggling, we are also encouraging our people to utilize health services resources like Omnicom’s Employee Assistance Program.
“In addition, some of our agencies are contributing to the Red Cross and to the Carter Center to support urgent medical needs.”
Giulio Malegori, Dentsu’s CEO for EMEA, sent a note to all staff globally, from himself and Hiroshi Igarashi, the group’s president and chief executive. It referenced “our Dentsu people in Israel” being accounted for and in contact with the leadership team in Israel, name-checking Dentsu Israel’s chief executive, Mirit Rabinovitz.
It offered support for employees and urged the importance of standing together.
The company has been in communication with all staff on the topic and in direct communication with employees in Israel and providing support in various ways.
Chief executive Mark Read also addressed the topic during a regular staff town hall meeting this week.
Campaign US wrote previously about how some global brands are suspending operations in Israel and asking staff to work from home because of the hostilities.
This story originally appeared on Campaign UK.