PR and public affairs up just 3.7% at WPP in 2010

NEW YORK: WPP Group said like-for-like revenue for its PR and public affairs businesses grew 3.7% to $1.38 billion in 2010, with the unit growing 5.6% in the fourth quarter.

NEW YORK: WPP Group said like-for-like revenue for its PR and public affairs businesses grew 3.7% to $1.38 billion in 2010, with the unit growing 5.6% in the fourth quarter.

The 5.6% growth in like-for-like revenue at the PR and public affairs unit in Q4 excludes the impact of acquisitions and currency fluctuations.

Last week, Interpublic's Constituency Management Group, which includes its PR firms, reported a revenue rise of 10.8% for the year, up to $1,014 million from $915.1 million in 2009. Omnicom's 2010 annual revenue from PR grew by 6.5% year-over-year, to $1.1 billion.

WPP cited Burson-Marsteller and specialty firms such as Dewey Square Group, Robinson Lerer & Montgomery, and Public Strategies for good performances. Other PR agencies in the WPP family include Hill & Knowlton, Ogilvy PR Worldwide, and Cohn & Wolfe.

The PR and public affairs sector, which makes up 9% of WPP's total revenues, showed the least growth compared to WPP's advertising, consumer insight, and branding and identity and healthcare and special communications units.

WPP said the group's overall like-for-like revenue rose 5.3% to $15.19 billion in 2010, compared to the $14.13 billion it reported for 2009. The group's like-for-like revenue in the fourth quarter jumped 8.5%, which WPP said is the fastest rate of quarterly growth for the group since Q4 of 2000.

Earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization increased 15.8% in 2010..

“2010 was a year of significant recovery, as clients re-focused on top-line sales growth and expansion, particularly in faster-growth geographic markets, as well as continued cost containment in the slower-growth markets of the United States and Western Europe," said WPP CEO Martin Sorrell in the earnings statement.

Sorrell also addressed the group's strong performance in the US. WPP's North America unit generates 35.1% of  total revenues and reported a 7.6%-increase in like-for-like revenue in 2010 – the largest annual growth for any of the marketing services network's regions.

“The strong finish to 2010 has continued into 2011, with like-for-like revenues in January 2011 up over 8%,” said Sorrell in the earnings statement. “Geographically, we are seeing stronger growth in both Asia and Latin America and with the United States remaining strong.”

*All figures were converted from the British pound to the US dollar using the XE currency converter.

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