Interpublic is back in the game with decent results for 2010 – but what will CEO Michael Roth do next?

The world’s once mightiest marcoms group is still nowhere near challenging WPP, Omnicom and Publicis Groupe in the global marcoms stakes but Interpublic looks like it’s finally left the intensive care ward.

It’s just reported net income (profit) of $281.2m for 2010, almost double what it made in 2009 ($143m). This isn’t a great return on revenue of just over $6bn but its revenues are up about ten per cent across the world so it’s fair to say that IPG is back in the game.

CEO Michael Roth attributes the improvement to delivering more ‘integrated and digital solutions’ which means, in essence, that the group has managed to cling on to more of the money that clients used to spend with trendy independents.

And the main driver of these results is the massive upsurge in US ad expenditure as cash-rich corporations have decided to boost their marketing budgets rather than open new factories or buy companies abroad.

But it’s a good result for Roth even as he recognises that he needs to boost his two big ad agency networks McCann Erickson and Lowe & Partners. The same goes for media shop Universal McCann.

Rather like WPP, IPG has some interesting agency brands, like The Martin Agency, floating around.

But the biggies are where the money is and Roth has backed new McCanns CEO Nick Brien and star creative signing Linus Karlsson from Mother to transform what is still the world’s biggest single agency network into a creative one too.

By one measurement Roth has done his job by saving IPG from collapse.

Does he have the vision to get it back up there, punching its weight against WPP, Omnicom and Publicis Groupe?

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About Stephen Foster

Stephen is a former editor of Marketing Week and London Evening Standard advertising columnist. He wrote City Republic for Brand Republic and is a partner in communications consultancy The Editorial Partnership.