Brands and agencies on alert to support staff in Ukraine

Companies offer financial support and close offices.

The Russian invasion has forced companies to shut Ukraine operations (Getty Images)
The Russian invasion has forced companies to shut Ukraine operations (Getty Images)

International brands and agencies have been rushing to support their businesses and staff in Ukraine following Russia’s invasion.

Many brands closed some or all of their operations when Russian forces entered Ukraine on Thursday (24 February) and the situation has escalated rapidly since then.

Nestlé, which has about 5,000 workers in Ukraine, temporarily closed three factories in the region, according to Bloomberg. 

AB InBev Efes, a regional joint venture backed by AB InBev, which has 3,000 staff in Ukraine, halted sales and production.

Carlsberg, which has about 1,300 workers, shut operations at two breweries.

Other companies, including Mondelez and Philip Morris International, which have significant operations in and around Ukraine, said they were monitoring the situation closely, according to Reuters.

Many of the big global agency groups including Publicis, WPP and Havas have staff in Ukraine.

Publicis Groupe has about 350 staff in Ukraine. Arthur Sadoun, the chief executive, told staff in a global memo that the company is closely involved.

“As the situation in Ukraine intensifies, many of you around the world have expressed your deep concern for your teammates there and asked what is being done to help them in this incredibly difficult moment,” Sadoun said.

“Over the past weeks the Groupe has been monitoring events very closely, putting the safety and wellbeing of our people and their families first through a number of concrete actions.

"These include emergency training, security alert systems, information hotlines and dedicated support teams, as well as financial assistance. We continue to reinforce those efforts and adapt to the unfolding events in Ukraine in real time, to bring our teams the aid and resources they need.

“We are staying very close to the entire Publicis Ukraine community, and with their local and Groupe leaders,” he said, adding he plans to chair “a roundtable for all of them” in the coming week (beginning 28 February) “to connect, give them the latest updates we have, and to take any questions or comments from them”.

WPP has 200 people in Ukraine, working for Wunderman Thompson, Ogilvy, VMLY&R, Group M and Hill & Knowlton.

Mark Read, the WPP chief executive, said: “We have been making contingency plans and helping people with financial support and the ability to relocate if they want, and other forms of assistance, including advancing them additional financial resources. It’s safe to say people there are shocked by what has happened.”

Havas said it is also working closely with its people and affiliated agencies in Ukraine. “They are our primary concern and we will stay in close contact with them over the coming days, offering any support they need and making any further arrangements should they become necessary,” a Havas spokesperson said.

“Given the rapidly changing nature of the situation, we will be monitoring it closely and remain ready to act should we need to, to ensure our colleagues and friends stay safe.”

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