Major ad holding firm WPP has announced a hiring freeze until further notice, battening down the hatches for what looks to be a major downturn over the next year or two. Via our good pal The Founder over at Tribble Ad Agency, the freeze looks like it will hit long-suffering ad speciality shop Enfatico especially hard.
A quick refresher on Enfatico: Formed to served the marketing needs of Dell, Enfatico went through a series of unfortunate names and increasingly derisive media coverage. Staffing has been sporadic at best, as people come and go with disturbing regularity. But now, with the hiring freeze in place, it looks like Enfatico will simply be unable to staff up to proper levels. All of this if before the group has truly produced a campaign to speak of -- there's been a mediocre website for Dell and an overactive PR outreach program, but very little in the way of actual advertising. As The Founder notes over at Tribble, Enfatico has yet to hit 20 percent of their benchmark for staffing in certain divisions.
Meanwhile, all of WPP will be feeling the crunch, though none no more than those recently hired by the holding firm. According to BrandWeek, the word from high that "any job offers made but not accepted must be withdrawn immediately." In other words, if you've pulled together your book and snagged a job at a WPP shop but failed to send back the offer letter before the weekend, you're very much up the creek.
Those within WPP should rest easy for the moment. In fact, they should make themselves very comfortable -- part of the hiring freeze includes the promise to come down harshly of firms nabbing staff from other intra-WPP shops.
In an industry that is getting bleaker by the day. WPP says that its forecasts have been quite bleak enough. From the BrandWeek article:
In its e-mail, the group points to what it says has been a dramatic change in government and consumer sentiment in the past few weeks. "Preliminary results for September show another month in which even our recently prepared forecasts for revenues have not been achieved," it says.
It goes on to point out that although operating companies were told in January to be careful about incurring additional staff costs, the headcount growth since August had exceeded revenue growth "by a significant factor".