The Martin Agency of Richmond, Va. may be one of many agencies that have wielded the ax, but at least it is trying to soften the blow for their lost staff.
When client cutbacks drove the Interpublic Group of Cos. shop to cut 5% of its staff last week, each of the 24 affected employees received a severance package, plus an offer; the agency is promising to pay prospective employers up to one half of the first month's salary (up to $4,000), for any laid-off employee hired by May. That could amount to a commitment of nearly $100,000 -- not exactly a drop in the bucket for any agency in these cash-strapped times.
"We're trying to think creatively about how we can get the employees we let go hired by someone else, and hopefully incent them to get them on their payrolls right away," said Beth Rilee-Kelley, partner at Martin and director of human resources. "We believe that it's important that if you are faced with a layoff situation, you think of creative ways to help our employees land on their feet."
These cuts are Martin's first since 2006 and even after the shop made Ad Age's 2008 Agency A-List and has delivered its best year in its 43-year history.
"We've seen steady erosion in projected spending among several of our clients during the past six to eight weeks," a spokesman said. The agency's biggest client is Walmart, and it also churns out work for Geico, UPS and the American Cancer Society.
The faltering economy has driven some advertisers to scale back on their plans, many agencies and media companies are suffering to, and a tremendous loss of talent has been part of it-- by some estimates fast approaching 100,000 employees.
Can the employee take the $4,000 if they go out on their own and open their own shop?
Also, I want to hear as soon as there are any "takers" that jump on this offer and the talented group of creative's that hit the streets.