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Publicis Groupe is surprise leader of JP Morgan’s 2019 global new business rankings

JP Morgan’s end-of-year new business league puts Publicis Groupe at the top of the agency chart, with a net increase of $2.23 billion in billings, estimated to represent $77 million in extra revenue.

Interpublic is second with $1.1 billion net increase in billings and $54 million in revenue. But after that it appears to be losses all the way. Omnicom won just over $2 billion in business but lost a bit more, with a net loss of $71 million – although revenues were still up by $17 million.

The rest are very much in the red: Havas’ net loss was $490 million in billings; MDC Partners’ was $404 million; WPP lost $627 million, and Dentsu $605 million. Makes you wonder who (if anyone) is picking up all the surplus billings.

JP Morgan’s chart is put together by looking at company claims, media reports and a bit of internal guesswork, so it’s accuracy can’t be verified, but it’s a pretty gloomy final tally for many of the big holding companies.

The rankings don’t tell the whole story, however, and weren’t necessarily reflected in the companies’ Q3 results. WPP posted a surprise return to growth in Q3, but spent a lot of the year defending business and lost the creative part of its biggest client, Ford, to BBDO and Wieden+Kennedy. Omnicom reported 2.2 per cent organic growth in Q3 and won the North American share of Disney’s $3 billion global media account.

Meanwhile Publicis Groupe — whose wins included LVMH, Novartis, Mondelez, Disney, Axa and Nivea — showed organic growth down -2.7 per cent in Q3, blamed mainly on US problems and cutbacks in client spending. So a new business table doesn’t tell the whole story, but in a competitive industry Publicis Groupe will be happy to be top of the charts, and CEO Arthur Sadoun will feel that he deserves his Christmas break before focusing on organic growth in 2020.

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