WPP's PR firms were flat in Q4, with a 0.1% like-for-like revenue decrease down from a 1.2% increase in Q4 2018. The holding company's PR shops include BCW, Hill+Knowlton Strategies and Finsbury. The bigger story is that WPP as a whole reported a slowdown in Q4 business, with a 1.9% drop in organic sales and no improvement in sight for this year. Its shares fell by the most in nearly three decades, according to the Financial Times.
The latest on coronavirus: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has confirmed the first U.S. case of the virus of "unknown origin" in California. The Dow Jones Industrial Average is set to drop 400 points on the news, according to CNBC.
The response: President Donald Trump did not mention the California case at a Wednesday evening press conference, despite being made aware of it, according to Bloomberg. Instead, he stuck with the message that the risk to Americans is low. At the press conference, Trump put Vice President Mike Pence in charge of the country's response to coronavirus. Critics immediately pointed out Pence's handling of an HIV outbreak in Indiana during his tenure as governor. Meanwhile, Japan is planning to close schools for about a month and play the rest of its preseason baseball schedule in empty stadiums. Saudi Arabia has halted pilgrimages to Mecca. Shares of advertising network Dentsu dropped to their lowest level since 2013 on Thursday over fears the Summer Olympic Games in Tokyo could be canceled.
Former President Barack Obama has called for South Carolina television stations to stop airing an ad from a pro-Trump group that attacks former Vice President Joe Biden by mischaracterizing Obama's words. Obama's representatives said they will send the pro-Trump group, Committee to Defend the President, a cease-and-desist letter, according to USA Today.
This morning's agency news: Vested has acquired Toronto-based financial PR specialist Goldman Communications in its second deal of the year. PwC has hired a top Edelman executive in the U.K. for a global corporate affairs role, and global digital chair Thomas Crampton has also left the firm. Publicis Groupe has named new CEOs in Japan and South Korea.
This story was updated on February 27 to correct WPP's Q4 PR revenue.