Martin Sorrell
Martin Sorrell

WPP today reported today that PR/PA revenues dipped during the second-half of 2017 but rose 1.7 percent for the full-year to the $1.6B mark.

Revenues (on a constant currency basis) slipped 0.9 percent and 0.8 percent in Q3 and Q4, respectively.

CEO Martin Sorrell said Cohn & Wolfe, Glover Park, Ogilvy Government Affairs and Buchanan “performed particularly well” in comparison to Burson-Marsteller, Hill+Knowlton Strategies and Finsbury.

WPP enjoyed strong PR/PA growth in the UK and Middle East during Q4, while North America and Continental Europe lagged.

Sorrell summed up 2017 as “not a pretty year.” 

He said the major factors influencing WPP’s lackluster financial performance “were probably the long-term impact of technological disruption and more the short-term focus of zero-based budgeters, activist investors and private equity than, we believe, the suggested disintermediation of agencies by Google and Facebook or digital competition from consultants.”

Sorrell, who on Feb. 27 announced the consolidation of B-M and C&W, expects “further simplification of our structure” and the “sharing of functions, systems and platforms across the group.”

His goal is to step up the “pace of WPP’s development from a group of individual companies to a cohesive global team dedicated to the core purpose of driving growth for clients.”

Looking at 2018, Sorrell sees global GDP growth at three to four percent.

He credited the strengthening US economy to Donald Trump’s policies of tax/regulation reduction and infrastructure investment.