Ad companies are cutting ties to Russia

Cannes Lions and WPP are among those making announcements today, while one local director has started a relief drive.


In a week when the global corporate sector has been cutting off ties with Russian businesses and ending their own operations in the country, the advertising industry has followed suit.

Cannes Lions, the world’s biggest gathering point for people from the marketing and advertising sectors, issued a statement on Friday saying it would not accept delegates or submissions from Russian organizations. In addition, Ukrainian creatives will be allowed to attend Cannes Lions free of charge, and any award submission fees already collected will be refunded.

Lions and parent company Ascential will also be making what it calls “a significant donation” to humanitarian charities working in the regions impacted by the conflict. It will also be setting up a talent directory for affected members of the creative community on the Lions digital platform and encourage the advertising and marketing community to commission and support work from them.

Earlier this week, D&AD announced that while it would still be accepting entries from Russian agencies, all fees collected would be donated to the Art Directors Club Ukraine. In addition, fees already collected from Ukrainian entrants will be refunded.

WPP, Accenture end operations in Russia

On Friday morning, WPP announced that it would be discontinuing operations in Russia, a move that impacts roughly 1,400 employees across its various holdings. The Russian market represented 0.6% of the company’s organic revenue in its most recent fiscal year.

“WPP stands with Ukraine and the international community in condemning the Russian invasion, which has created a humanitarian crisis in the heart of Europe,” the company’s statement read. “The Board of WPP has concluded that WPP’s ongoing presence in Russia would be inconsistent with our values as a company.”

WPP said it regretted the impact it had on talent in Russia, and would “support them” as it withdrew from the country. It is also providing financial and practical assistance to its 200 employees in Ukraine.

It followed the announcement Thursday that Accenture would be ending its operations in Russia, a move impacting 2,300 staff, who the company also said it would “support” during its exit. Accenture, which does not have operations in Ukraine, will also be donating $5 million relief organizations working to help people in Ukraine and those who have been displaced from the region, as well as matching all similar donations from its staff globally.

Neither company provided a timeline for their withdrawal, or said if they would re-institute operations in Russia should the conflict end.

Trade group cuts ties with Russian, Belarusian counterparts

The European Association of Communications Agencies (EACA) has suspended its relationships with the Russian Association of Communications Agencies and the Association of Communication and Marketing Agencies of Belarus.

“As a trade association, we normally remain a politically neutral body promoting the interests of the business sector and do not engage in politics nor take positions on geopolitical issues,” the EACA said in a statement. “However, this unprecedented and tragic situation has compelled the EACA Board and Management Committee to take the decision of suspending its relationships…as part of a concerted effort to isolate Russian and Belarusian Institutions from the international community.”

In addition to the “unjustifiable aggression in Ukraine,” the EACA cited the role disinformation has played during the conflict, something that runs contrary to its own effort to ensure advertising does not fund or contribute to false content. It also pointed to relocation and funding initiatives for communications professionals who are in or displaced from affected regions.

VoxComm, the global agency body of which both EACA and ICA Canada are members, is supporting the move.

Toronto director collects much-need supplies for Ukrainians

IMG_3751In a post on Instagram and an email sent to all of his contacts, photographer and director Jason van Bruggen – who has created work for the likes of Destination Canada, Gymnastics Canada, Petro Canada and Moosehead – began to coordinate his own effort to gather medical supplies, clothing, sleeping bags and other goods most needed by the people still in Ukraine. He has coordinated with the Ukrainian embassy to ensure all of the collected goods will be directly distributed on the ground in Lviv.

As of this morning, hundreds of people have contributed tens of thousands of items to Van Bruggen’s drive – called “Resistance From a Distance” – which has filled up the entirety of his 2,000 sq. ft. office space (pictured) and currently has enough to fill an entire cargo plane.

Those who still want to make their own contribution can see what supplies are still most needed here and reach out to Van Bruggen directly. He is asking that donations be delivered before March 8; those that cannot make deliveries to his Toronto office are asked to donate to a humanitarian charity, or send funds to Van Bruggen to purchase supplies himself.