|February 17, 2010|
|Ad/PR Clients Move to Cusp of Confidence|
|By Kevin McCauley|
|Do you feel the market ad/PR market comeback?|
Publicis Groupe CEO Maurice Levy does. The French ad/PR conglom saw a "steady and continuing increase in our numbers starting last summer, and the trend continued in January 2010," Levy said in a statement this week with its '09 financials.
Putting his best spin on a 10 percent slide in '09 profits, the silver-tongued Frenchman (pictured) says his firm actually gained market share because it chalked up a smaller shrinkage than competitors. Levy, who instituted a pay and hiring freeze, is ready to invest in talent as the firm is poised to outperform WPP Group and the rest of the gang and embark on a new phase of margin growth in '11.
Levy did warn of "dips and bumps" ahead.
Omnicom CEO John Wren isn't as eloquent as Levy. The pride of Brooklyn last week declared the "worst of the recession and its impact is behind us." He anticipates that many clients will "at least modestly increase spending in the second half of 2010."
Interpublic CEO Michael Roth has scheduled a conference call Feb. 26 to discuss earnings. The word is that PR units led by Weber Shandwick and MWW Group more than held their own in the tough year.
Of course, ad/PR people won't be passing around the champagne until word comes down from the mount. That's when Sir Martin Sorrell weighs in more positively about the economy. Forecasters are anxiously waiting for the WPP chief to upgrade his "Things are less worse" evaluation of economic conditions.
Sorrell seems to be moving in that direction. He told PBS' "Nightly Business Report" on Feb. 10 that markets have stabilized, meaning "we're seeing, top- line, like-for-like sales growth flat to last year."
Sorrell implied that corporate clients may be on the cusp of confidence. That will be achieved when better earnings reports are achieved by improved revenues than by cost-cutting. Companies haven't gotten to that point yet, but Sorrell is waiting for that moment to arrive.
Shortly, we all pray.
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