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Ad Age: Fishbowl Survey Shows Remote Workers Are Anxious About Layoffs – And Drinking On The Job

by | Jun 1, 2020

Originally posted on Ad Age by Lindsay Rittenhouse, May 29, 2020

Fishbowl, the anonymous professional networking app that opened to advertisers in 2017, has received a fair amount of criticism by some who view it as a vehicle for spreading rumors and negativity. Feelings aside though, according to the company, it attracts hundreds of thousands of industry workers to its site every day, keeping a pretty good pulse on adland — a critical function, especially during these trying times.

A recent Fishbowl survey reveals, perhaps unsurprisingly, that anxiety is running high among workers on its site (the app is used by consulting, advertising and marketing professionals). But what might be more surprising is the extent to which these issues are bearing down on workers in the industry.

The survey found that 54 percent of Fishbowl users are fearful of layoffs at their company; 55 percent are clocking more hours now than before the pandemic; and 42 percent are drinking on the job at home. Still, even with remote work taking its toll on workers, the survey found that 55 percent of users still would prefer to work from home permanently. Fishbowl says 17,000 users across the U.S. responded to the survey, which ran May 20-23.

Talking about that ‘silent partner’

As the Fishbowl survey seems to prove, the pandemic is taking its toll on the creative community’s mental health. Laurel Stark Akman, an editorial director with The 3% Conference, and FCB Chicago Art Director Victoria Rosselli created a platform, called “Our Silent Partner,” to address this growing problem and provide resources to creatives struggling with mental health issues during this time. The duo aim to end the stigma surrounding these issues, writing on the website: “In the creative community, our mental health is the one ‘partner’ we all share, yet never talk about. And in the wake of COVID-19, that silence is especially deafening.” The site compiles “creative work designed to get us all talking, open and honestly.” Stark Akman and Rosselli detail on the platform their own struggles with mental health and encourage others to reach out and do the same.

“Both Victoria and I have been managing our own mental health issues since we were teenagers, and have struggled at various points in our careers, not only with balancing the demands of a creative career and our not-always-compatible mental health needs, but also with feelings of shame and failure around having diagnoses,” Stark Akman says. “We wanted to use our own experiences to help de-stigmatize these kinds of challenges, and encourage brand and agency leadership to acknowledge the problem and find ways of better supporting their people.”

‘The Shadow Pandemic’

A new PSA released this week from UN Women, called “The Shadow Pandemic,” raises awareness of an alarming global surge in domestic violence since the start of the pandemic. According to UN Women, “when households are placed under the increased strains that come from security, health and money worries, and cramped and confined living conditions, levels of domestic violence spike.” The 60-second spot (below) created by Interpublic Group of Cos. agencies and Getty Images — both Unstereotype Alliance members — is narrated by Academy Award-winning actor Kate Winslet and features footage from homes around the world.

Through the PSA, Winslet details some harrowing statistics including: calls to domestic abuse hotlines rose 65 percent during one recent weekend in the U.K. alone.

“In the U.S., Asia and pretty much everywhere else,” Winslet continues in the video, “reported numbers are rising. These aren’t just numbers, they are people.”

Winslet urges people in the PSA to educate themselves on domestic abuse, reach out to check on those who may be affected and call authorities or a helpline if abuse is suspected. “It’s a proud moment when the power of advertising is used not just to build awareness of a critical issue but also to empower people to do something about it,” IP G Chairman-CEO Michael Roth says.

Advancing online privacy for kids

WPP and SuperAwesome, a kid-tech platform, formed a partnership to advance the standards of online privacy for children. Due to an increase in children’s online consumption patterns, WPP claims to be “the first company among its peers to set a benchmark for the highest standards in digital privacy and safety for kids.” According to the companies, 40 percent of all new internet users are children and the new partnership will build on GroupM’s existing controls to exclude and minimize the risk of children’s exposure to unstable content on social media. The collaboration will help inform brands on how to engage responsibly and in compliance with new global privacy laws designed to protect kids online. WPP says all of its clients will have access to these resources.

“We’re already seeing big changes in family life as a result of the coronavirus pandemic and how we all interact with technology,” WPP CEO Mark Read says. “WPP’s partnership with SuperAwesome is part of our commitment to ensure children’s safety while engaging with content online.”

Interesting insights from recent COVID-19 studies

As the industry seeks to better understand and predict the effects the pandemic has had and will have on its businesses, there has been a slew of studies coming from consultancies, agencies and marketers. Highlighted here are some interesting findings from two such studies.

Marketing consultancy We Are Rosie found in its “Rosie Report: Insights from the Future of Work in Advertising and Marketing,” that 61 percent of traditional full-time marketing employees prefer a “different” work model, and only 1 percent of marketers maintain they “must have a traditional office environment” — showing remote work may become more permanent at many

companies. Another interesting point the report uncovered was that only 28 percent of employees said they felt their organization was well prepared to accommodate remote work when the pandemic hit — an insight that runs counter to all the businesses that have been claiming they were easily able to transition their workforce to go remote.

IPG’s Constituency Management Group (CMG) agencies released a report, “The Road to Recovery: How to Navigate the New Marketing Landscape.” In it, agency execs discuss how the pandemic has served as a catalyst for change and why the industry has “an opportunity to prepare for how we define what comes next.” Among the insights: 67 percent of people believe that it’s “very important” for businesses to show how they are taking care of their employees. A bright spot for brick-and-mortar businesses, the study found that only 8 percent of consumers plan to stop going to restaurants and 33 percent say they will visit them more after the pandemic (15 percent will visit less often and 6 percent will visit “more than ever”). The report found only 7 percent of consumers say they will stop visiting retailers, 15 percent say they will visit less often, 29 percent say they will visit them more and 4 percent say they will visit them “more than ever.”

“Our report provides insights from a range of different perspectives for marketers drawing up new playbooks on how they go to market in the face of fast-changing consumer behaviors,” says Andy Polansky, chairman and CEO of IPG’s CMG. “The pandemic has changed overnight how marketers go forward and think about their public relations and employee engagement strategies, as well as the future of sponsorship, experiential and influencer marketing.”

More mergers

MDC Partners has merged two of its public relations firms, KWT Global and HL Group, which are both part of its Doner Partner Network. Effective June 1, the agencies will combine leadership and operations but keep their respective brand names. The combined entity will be moving into MDC Partners’ new digs at One World Trade Center in New York with additional offices in Los Angeles, London and Toronto — of course, when offices are able to open up again.

Aaron Kwittken, co-founder and CEO of KWT Global, will serve as global CEO of the combined firm. Lynn Tesoro, co-founder and CEO of HL Group, will become founding partner of HL Group. Gabrielle Zucker, co-founder and president of KWT Global, will serve as president of the new firm and continue to report into Kwittken. The combined firm’s client roster includes Deloitte, American Express Global Business Travel, Four Seasons, NetJets, Bonobos, Blink Fitness, PayPal, Sprint and L’Oréal USA, among others.

MDC has been restructuring various of its agencies into combined networks since Mark Penn took over as CEO and chairman of the holding company last year. The efforts saw the formation of Constellation, a collective spanning creative agencies 72andSunny and Crispin Porter Bogusky; digital brand and experience shop instrument; strategy and design firm Redscout, and production shop Hecho Studios. There is also a Doner-led network, an Anomaly-led alliance and a media, data and tech network comprised of Gale, Allegory, Attention, EnPlay, Trade X Partners, Unique Influence, Assembly and Varick.

Brief mentions

S4 Capital’s MightyHive merged with Digodat, a Latin American data and analytics consultancy. The company says, “despite the pressures of COVID-19, S4 Capital believes that further expansion of its first-party data, digital advertising content, data and analytics and programmatic capabilities should continue.” Founded in 2015 by Alan Daitch and Mauro Giordano, Digodat provides services including digital analytics audits and implementation, site optimization, data visualization and insights, predictive modeling, data engineering and training. The consultancy employs 50 people across Argentina, Colombia, Chile and Mexico, and works with clients such as Google, Telecom Argentina, Banco Galicia, BBVA, Grupo Falabella and Intercorp.

Barkley, a Kansas City-based independent shop, was named lead brand agency for Copper Mountain Resort, following a review. Copper Mountain is a year-round mountain destination located 75 miles west of Denver. Barkley will be responsible for providing brand positioning and creative strategy. The account will be handled by the agency’s Boulder, Colorado office.

VMLY&R India was appointed agency of record for Colgate-Palmolive’s digital communication business in the region, following a multi-agency pitch. The agency’s scope will include digital campaign planning, creative, social listening and “establishing Colgate-Palmolive’s leadership position in the categories of oral care and personal hygiene in India, across all digital platforms,” according to VMLY&R. The account will be led by the agency’s Mumbai office.

Guru, a bicoastal creative agency, was named an agency partner for San Clemente, California-based Sambazon, which stands for Sustainable Management of the Brazilian Amazon. Sambazon is the maker and seller of açaí-based food and beverage; manufacturing organic açaí products cause no damage to the Amazon, hence the name of the company. Sambazon was founded in 2000 by Ryan Black, Edmund Nichols and Jeremy Black following a trip to Brazil. It is unclear the exact scope of the partnership.

FCB Health Network appointed Sebastian Mallarino as group creative director. A native of Colombia, Mallarino was the first creative in the country to receive a Cannes Lions Grand Prix and two Grand Effies. He has spent the last 11 years at Grey. Under his leadership as creative VP, he led Grey Colombia to become the most awarded agency in the country in 2017. Throughout his career, Mallarino has worked with clients such as GSK, Boehringer Ingelheim, Unilever, P&G, Uber, DirecTV, Volvo, Volkswagen, Pernod Ricard and Coca-Cola.

Logical Position, a digital marketing agency, created a free hotline to share solutions with business owners struggling during the pandemic. The agency says businesses can call 1-855-BIZ-LINE for “complimentary, no obligation, business strategy consultation.” The line is open from 7 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. PDT Monday through Friday. Logical Position also created a virtual Facebook group, called “eCommunity: Business Survival Guide,” that is open to anyone with questions or seeking advice on weathering the current crisis.