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British Invasion The number of important U.K.-based publicly owned Big Agencies is now three: Saatchi & Saatchi, WPP Group and Cordiant Communications Group. The first two recently issued annual reports to shareholders covering 1997, even though the new year is almost half over. (The U.S. companies published their reports a couple of months ago.) For the past five years, WPP has tried (and succeeded) to make the wait worthwhile by offering a chatty discourse on the world view from London's Farm St. The outlook? Pretty rosy. Marketers are responding to their own competitive pressures, as well as to changes in the advertising/media universe, by emphasizing brand building, a shift away from the price-oriented promotional focus that prevailed a few years ago. Is the change for keeps or merely a fashion statement? It will take a recession to tell. Aside from the essay, WPP's annual report features charts, tables and graphs. One of the most-often-cited tables shows revenues by practice area and by territory. The largest single piece of the industry, according to the latest chart, is the one that includes sales promotion in the U.S. --Alan Gottesman (westendal pobox.com) is principal of West End Consulting.


THE GOTTESMAN FILE
Spending on marketing services grew 2 percent globally: Asia and Continental Europe slumped, offsetting the Anglophonic advance.

..........1996.....1997.....Change
.....U.S......$436.0.....$472.6.....8.4%
.....U.K......56.0.....69.2.....23.6%
.....France.....30.2.....28.8.....-4.6%
.....Germany.....45.3.....43.1.....-4.9%
.....Japan.....89.9.....63.0.....-29.9%
.....Rest of the world.....239.5.....239.5.....0.0%
.....Total.....$896.9.....$916.2.....2.2%.....
.....Source: WPP Group. Dollar figures in billions