Ogilvy Joburg CCO criticised over internal #covid19 video
by Herman Manson (@MarkLives) Upset members of Ogilvy Johannesburg‘s creative team have emailed MarkLives a YouTube link, shared by the agency’s creative leadership team, addressing staff on the realities of working remotely due to the covid-19 pandemic.
In the video, running to 7:39 minutes, Matthew Barnes, Ogilvy Joburg chief creative officer, responds to the coronavirus crisis by telling members of the creative team that work continues at the agency, even if some staff members work remotely. With him in the video sit Molefi Thulo and Peter Little, both creative directors at the Joburg office. [Note: the video, posted by Barnes, has since been removed from YouTube.]
“This is not a semi-holiday”
Barnes tells staff that “the opportunity for a massive fuckup is greater than it ever was in terms of missing deadlines, missing rollout, missing details…” as he calls on people to be diligent and responsible and to get work done. “This is not a semi-holiday,” he tells staff, before adding that clients expect the agency to deliver, and they pay it to deliver.
“Just from people self-quarantining and electing not to come to work, which may be a good idea or not a good idea, the impact that it puts on our ability to deliver work on a daily basis are massive. And particularly when we don’t know where you guys are, what your schedules are,” says Barnes in the video. Staff needs people to work 7.5 hours a day, he continues, and in some cases people need to do extra… “This cannot be, ‘Cool, I’ve done my job for the day and now I’m going to play golf,'” he says.
“It is serious, guys, really fucking serious, not necessarily the health risks, ultimately, thankfully, but the impact here is that this virus is going to kill more companies than it will individuals, so… Just have a look at the international, global business news, if you are confused about the business impact of this,” he continues.
He concludes, seemingly ironically, with “as you can see, it is so much fucking fun here at the office — it’s rad — so I hope you guys are having fun at home or where-ever you are. And, if anything, we look forward to seeing even better creative because you are in your favorite environment, surrounded by your favorite things and your favorite people, so pull your fucking fingers out and deliver some amazing creative, guys. Thank you and bye.”
“Treating us like school children”
“Here’s what Ogilvy’s leadership has to say about coronavirus,” read an email from one staffer. “We’re all still in the office, we’re scared and our leaders are treating us like school children.”
Mathieu Plassard, Ogilvy South Africa chief growth officer, told MarkLives that Barnes’s communication was a single piece of many issued over the last few days and was addressed internally towards his own team. He stressed that Ogilvy SA is a responsible employer, and that a task team is meeting on a daily basis to discuss issues around the pandemic and its impact on the organisation and on clients. Some managed remote-working has been put in place for staff needing to care for dependents, especially as schools have been closed down early. Plassard says no staff member has yet come in contact with or been infected by the novel coronavirus.
According to Elouise Kelly, Ogilvy Joburg MD, the pandemic is causing widespread anxiety — also inside the agency — and that some of this anxiety is expressed internally and some to outside platforms (in this case, MarkLives).
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