Publicis Groupe boss Maurice Levy agrees with WPP (for once) – September slump means it’s tin hat time

Publicis Groupe’s results for the third quarter of 2012 show revenue of €1.63bn, up 14.7 per cent year on year but just two per cent on an organic basis.

Which is remarkably similar to WPP’s 1.9 per cent ‘growth’ figure.

And the reason (as with WPP) is that revenues fell off a cliff in September.

PG boss Maurice Levy (left) says: “This was a summer of contrasts: the upward trend continued through July and August, then September brought a sudden downturn in the economies of Europe.

“Given the circumstances, Publicis has done well in achieving organic growth of two per cent, although this falls short of earlier expectations. The areas of concern are clearly identified and limited both geographically and by sector and in no way undermine the potential of Publicis Groupe.”

The big marcoms companies have been surfing a vertigo-inducing spending wave for the past year or so. Their big clients have not been investing in new plant and big deals because of economic uncertainty, but they have been spending on advertising. Now that’s on the chopping board.

Which is bad news for anyone working for WPP, Omnicom, Publicis Groupe or Interpublic.

On the question of Interpublic (which is also suffering third quarter gloom) – is PG planning a $6bn bid or isn’t it? – Levy said: “IPG is a good company. It has bags full of issues as everyone has – we respect them even if we are competing against them. It’s a good competitive relationship and nothing else. When we look at the possibility of acquiring IPG from time to time, there is always a banker coming with a book saying how compelling it is to make that acquisition.”

Which isn’t a yes, but it certainly isn’t a no either. But gambling $6bn when your clients are slashing adspend would be a brave move, even for Levy.

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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.