Interpublic Group has followed in the footsteps of WPP and Accenture, suspending its operations in Russia. CEO Philippe Krakowsky (pictured) said after the unprovoked invasion of Ukraine, the agency has been focusing on doing whatever it can to assist its associates there. Though IPG's Ukrainian agencies were all affiliates, Krakowsky said the agency felt a sense of responsibility to do whatever possible on behalf of people whose lives are being upended and threatened.
While its Russian operations have been suspended, IPG has been wrestling with how to reconcile with the fact that the decision meant abandoning approximately 200 colleagues there. As a result, IPG will be leaving its Russian teams with enough capital on their balance sheet to pay their people for a minimum of six months. The agency network will also be engaging with its agencies in Russia in the coming weeks, as it cedes control of all aspects of management and operations to the local leadership team to ensure continuity for any non-Russian clients who remain active in the market, explained Krakowsky.
Since the announcement of the suspension, IPG has immediately applied all international sanctions and informed clients in Russia who were prohibited parties that it could no longer work with them. "Because we have never owned a media business in Russia, we did not have significant concerns that our media buying was either fueling the local economy, or funding media being used by the state," said Krakowsky.
Essentially, Krakowsky added that by supporting the agency's colleagues in Russia, it could live up to the part of its DNA that values and seeks to protect its people. At the same time, the agency is also able to live up to the international sanctions against the Russian regime. "Had initial ceasefire talks been productive, we could have perhaps managed to do both. But recent and escalating attacks on civilian targets, including hospitals, make it regrettably clear that the trajectory of the conflict is escalating, and the war could well go on for some time," he explained.
Earlier this month, Accenture became the first company with advertising and digital services to pull out of Russia. According to Accenture, it said it stood with the people of Ukraine and the governments, companies and individuals around the world calling for the immediate end to the "unlawful and horrific attack on the people of Ukraine and their freedom". "We thank our nearly 2,300 colleagues in Russia for their dedication and service to Accenture over the years. We will be providing support to our Russian colleagues," it said.
A few days after Accenture's decision, WPP followed suit and discontinued its operations in Russia as a show of support for Ukraine and the international community in condemning the Russian invasion. According to WPP, the invasion had "created a humanitarian crisis in the heart of Europe" and its ongoing presence in Russia would be "inconsistent with its values as a company". Meanwhile, WSJ previously reported that Dentsu International is also "closely reviewing" the situation in Russia to better guide its clients and make informed decisions for its business.
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