French holding company Publicis Groupe has announced that it will no longer conduct business in Russia, in response to the invasion of Ukraine.
In a filmed address to Publicis staff, Arthur Sadoun, CEO and chairman of Publicis Groupe, said: ”We continue to condemn this war and the Russian state’s unilateral declaration of war on Ukraine. We fully support the sanctions from across the international community. We are actually applying them very strictly and taking actions that directly respond to the gravity of the situation. As a result Publicis Groupe is stopping all operations, engagements and investments in Russia, effective immediately.”
Publicis said in a statement that it had ceded ownership of its agencies to local management teams, effective immediately. Publicis employs 1,200 people in Russia through agencies such as Leo Burnett, Zenith and Starcom.
Sergey Koptec, founding chariman of Publicis in Russia, will now lead its operations there. Koptec has been tasked with ensuring a future for the holding company’s Russia-based employees.
Sadou said in the company statement: “Since the start of the invasion, we have been working on exiting Russia as we strongly condemn the unilateral aggression against Ukraine. We were committed to taking strong actions that fully respond to the gravity of the situation.
“But we were determined to take the necessary time to come with a solution that was truly people-first, because our 1,200 employees in Russia are our people too. We couldn’t just abandon them. By ceding control of our Russian operations to Sergey, we are securing a future path for our colleagues while immediately stopping all of our operations, engagement and investment in Russia.“
Sadoun said that the company’s main priority was the safety of its staff in Ukraine. “The safety of our people in Ukraine remains our number one focus. We are in daily contact with all 350 of them on an individual basis and doing everything we can to protect them. From security alert systems, to psychological and mental health support, to help with visas, or guaranteeing salaries for everyone for the entire year, we will continue to stand by their side, be exhaustive in the solutions we bring and immediate in the aid we provide.”
In his address to staff though, Sadoun also emphasized he need to support Publicis colleagues in Russia, saying that said some of Publicis’ staff in Russia had worked for the company for decades. ”They are actually preparing themselves and their families for dark days.
”Let me be clear: we have a duty to protect them, too. And I was not prepared to abandon them with a short email and a few roubles in compensation. Those are not our values.”