Recession is history says Omnicom’s John Wren as fourth quarter revenues rise ten per cent

Omnicom, owner of BBDO, DDB and TBWA, has confirmed the recovery in advertising industry fortunes with fourth quarter 2010 like for like revenue growth of ten per cent bringing total revenue in 2010 to $12.5bn (up 6.5 per cent) and profit to $819m (up 4.4 per cent).

As well as benefiting the marcoms company’s big agencies the recovery in spending brought a strong performance from the company’s customer relationship marketing companies (CRM), up more than 17 per cent in the final quarter.

CEO John Wren also confirmed the acquisition of social media data company Communispace although he promised not to embark on a spending spree. He reported that Omnicom had returned to its customary growth levels following the recession and put the company’s money where his mouth is by hiklng the shareholder dividend 25 per cent.

While Wren’s pronouncements echoed those of his rivals WPP’s Sir Martin Sorrell and Publicis Groupe’s Maurice Levy there do seem to be clear differences of emphasis between the three.

Sorrell too has said his company will eschew acquisitions but, unlike Wren who seems happy with the companies he’s got and what they do, there seems to be a major tidying-up exercise going on at WPP. The company has acquired thousands of companies in recent years and only today it emerged that WPP was grouping some of its standalone digital agencies into a new company Possible Worldwide.

It has also grouped its outdoor interests including specialist buyer Kinetic into a new company Tenth Avenue and merged P&R giant Hill & Knowlton with the much smaller Public Strategies, a move which led to the departure of H&K boss Paul Taaffe.

Publicis Groupe boss Maurice Levy, by contrast, does have his cheque book out, promising to expand the company’s footprint in China and other emerging markets (actually China in particular has well and truly ’emerged’ already). Levy has identified healthcare and PR as two areas he wants to grow.

Publicis is also the likeliest of the three to buy another agency, owning just Publicis itself and Saatchi & Saatchi among the biggies in comparison to Omnicom’s blue chip trio and WPP’s O&M, Y&R, JWT and Grey.

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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.
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