WPP disappoints with 3.8% Q3 organic growth

WPP reported a seriously underwhelming third quarter of 2022 with like-for-like revenue less pass-through costs (its rather lumpy definition of organic growth) of just 3.8%, way behind rival Publicis’ 10.3% and trailing US rivals Omnicom and Interpublic.

However the company says it faced stronger comparative with 2021 than its rivals. WPP says it beat analysts’ expectations.

The company, the biggest by turnover and staff numbers among the marcoms elite, nudged up its full year guidance to 6.5-7% growth.

CEO Mark Read (above) put a brave face on things, saying: “WPP continues to show strong momentum, reflecting broad-based growth across our agencies, markets and industry sectors and the investment by our clients in marketing, ecommerce and digital transformation. Our performance on a three-year basis has continued to improve each quarter during 2022.

“Our new business success reflects the quality of our creative work, our strength in media and our ability to deliver integrated solutions to clients. During the quarter we achieved $1.7 billion of net new business, including assignments with Nestle?, Samsung and SC Johnson. Our leading scale and differentiated offer were exemplified by GroupM which led COMvergence’s new business and retention global rankings in the first half of 2022.

“We enter the last quarter of the year with confidence, based on the leading competitive position of our businesses, our client momentum and the knowledge that the actions we have taken to strengthen WPP leave us well placed to support our clients in navigating the economic uncertainties ahead.”

We’ve yet to see a full market reaction to what seem underwhelming numbers although WPP won’t be the only pillar of adland to stumble over the next few difficult months.

But some investors may want to see a variation on the usual WPP strategy of majoring on digital transformation.

Update

WPP shares fell 3.68% in early trading. Tech giants Alphabet (Google) and Microsoft also reported slowing ad growth.

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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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