As the advertising sector continues to reel its way through these first few days of 2009, Maurice Levy, head of Publicis and ardent Obama supporter, is interested in holding steady.
He’s sitting at the poker table placing his bets and they align with the strategy he kicked off in 2006 and the purchase of Digitas. Levy is pretty positive that online ad spend is only going to continue to increase as we head into 2010. At the same time, he has invested heavily in emerging markets such as Latin America. Some say these are risky moves, but Levy is sticking to his guns.
“We have other negotiations under way in China; we have contacts in India,” Levy said just the other day, alluding to the possibility of more small purchases. Still, he’s not planning any huge acquisitions like say of Aegis or anything, despite the rumors. He sounded pretty sure in the International Herald Tribune that large agencies such as Publicis and boutique shops would weather the storm just fine if they held the course.
Perhaps, but the idea of online ad spend holding steady is one that is under heavy contention right now. Those quants of our business are saying that there will be anywhere from an 8.9% to 5% increase in online ad spending in 2009. Anyway you cut it, that’s 16% to 11% down from 2008, but hell… it’s still an increase, right? The real truth is that no one knows what’s going to happen. No one. We are in a full red blooded recession and the effects of such a “black swan” event have yet to really unfurl. Predict all you want, but the ball is firmly up in the air.