WPP Group (WPPGY), the largest of the major holding agencies, reported Q3 earnings today. Revenues in the Public Relations and Public Affairs were down 8.5% in Q3 on a like for like basis, to $312.6 million. This is a “relative improvement” the company said in a statement, after a 9.7% drop in the second quarter.
Overall revenues were down 8.7% on a like for like basis. On a non like for like basis, which takes into account the WPP’s acquisition of media intelligence company TNS, revenues were up 16%. The company did not mince words in a statement released today:
There is little doubt that consumer and corporate confidence has recovered somewhat from the panic levels of the fourth quarter of 2008 and first quarter of 2009. Confidence, however, remains fragile amongst consumers, because of the shadow of high unemployment levels and amongst corporates, because Armageddon and Apocalypse now were barely avoided in September 2008. Whilst the hearts of CEOs and CMOs are stronger and their minds clearer, increased confidence is still not transferring to their cheque-writing hands.
WPP also noted that it had reduced global headcount by 10% since December 31, 2008. The company’s PR holdings include Hill & Knowlton, Ogilvy Public Relations Worldwide, Burson-Marsteller and Cohn & Wolfe.