IPG management in turmoil, Omnicom and WPP's PR revenues fall

NEW YORK and LONDON: The marketing holding company scene was in the spotlight last week as two of the three major firms issued earnings, and several published reports said the CEO of the third company had been demoted and replaced.

NEW YORK and LONDON: The marketing holding company scene was in the spotlight last week as two of the three major firms issued earnings, and several published reports said the CEO of the third company had been demoted and replaced.

As PRWeek went to press last Thursday, several news outlets were reporting that a special board meeting led to Interpublic CEO John Dooner being sent back to head the company's flagship McCann-Erickson ad unit. David Bell, who was head of True North Communications when IPG acquired it in 2001, will replace Dooner, according to these reports.

Dooner had been under fire over an embarrassing accounting snafu at the McCann unit.

Interpublic's PR holdings include Weber Shandwick, Golin/Harris International, and The MWW Group.

Also last week, WPP reported a 68% plunge in net profit for 2002, while Omnicom posted a 23% rise in Q4 profits.

Both giant marketing companies said their PR holdings continue to struggle.

WPP, whose PR agencies include Burson-Marsteller, Hill & Knowlton, and Ogilvy PR, said its PR revenue dropped 8% during 2002.

Omnicom also faulted its PR businesses, which include Fleishman-Hillard, Ketchum, and Porter Novelli. PR "continues to be our most difficult sector," Omnicom CFO Randall Weisenburger told investors on a conference call.

PR revenues were down 10.4% in Q4, and 6.2% for all of fiscal 2002.

Despite the jump in quarterly profits, Omnicom suffered a credit-rating downgrade by rating agency Moody's, citing debt load, among other factors.

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