In an e-mail to senior staff and seen by Campaign, the group, whose agency empire includes JWT, Ogilvy & Mather and Mindshare, cites clients' decisions to hold back on marketing spend as the reason for its action. The company, which is led by the chief executive, Sir Martin Sorrell, has ordered that any job offers made but not accepted must be withdrawn immediately.
The freeze, which will not be reappraised until after next February's budget reviews, applies to all staff, regardless of salary or role, and includes replacement hires and open positions.
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.