Publicis Boss Levy Admits 1,800 Were Laid Off

Last Updated Jul 29, 2009 5:37 PM EDT

Credit where credit is due: Publicis boss Maurice Levy has come clean and admitted that he's cut 1,800 staff from his agency network, according to the Guardian. BNET chided Publicis a couple of weeks ago for being coy about layoffs.

The admission means that Levy's December forecast of no layoffs at Publicis was completely wrong. And it provides a number to gauge the scale of his error. There are about 45,000 employees at Publicis, so the cuts represent 4 percent of his workers. It also adds some meat to the bare bones admission in Publicis' Q2 earnings release that the company was surprised by how bad the recession was.

The number brings the BNET Ad Agency Layoff Counter to 34,828 jobs lost since the start of the recession.

Levy gave this explanation to the Guardian:

Separating us from all the other agencies is that we have absolutely no announcement of global or regional cuts.

... We are more sensible. We are in the people business and don't want to hurt people and we want to manage this in a less negative way. We need to make sure we can hit the numbers we want without hurting clients and the management of clients. This is more positive, morale is high despite the gloomy atmosphere.

There's nothing "sensible" about lying by ommission to your clients, staff and investors. As the emergence of the 1,800 number proves, these things come out anyway. This is the age of transparency. Companies that don't develop the skills to handle both good and bad news in a timely fashion will lose the trust of their consumers.