ICYMI: Net sales down at WPP, Facebook updates Journalism Project

Plus, Quebecor has invested in a Montreal heritage site and Cineplex has launched another location of the Rec Room.

Net sales decrease at WPP globally

Net sales for WPP decreased in the first half of 2017 and the second half faces a “weak start,” according to its CEO Sir Martin Sorrell. During the company’s most recent financial presentation Wednesday, the holding MartinSorrellcompany reported a 0.5% drop in net sales for the first six months of the year, and July has already seen a 2.6% year-over-year decline, with organic revenue down 4.1%. Sorrell attributed the drop largely to reduced spending from CPG clients, which make up roughly one-third of WPP agencies’ business. Sorrell added that some CPG clients have expressed plans to increase their marketing spend in the second half of the year. WPP agencies in Canada include the GroupM network of agencies, as well as creative shops J. Walter Thomson, Taxi and Grey Canada.

Facebook updates journalism project

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg reiterated this week that the company is testing new features to the Facebook Journalism Project in order to help news organizations grow their subscriptions. Now, in some markets, it will allow publishers who post Instant Articles on the site to push toward subscriptions (although it has not yet shared details on how it plans to do so). When users sign up through Facebook, the publisher will keep 100% of the revenue. This contrasts Facebook with Apple, which has a policy to collect 30% of the share from subscriptions purchased through the Apple Store and Apple News (the same 30% it collects from all other app purchases). Facebook’s new system will roll out in the U.S. and some European markets and will expand following feedback. Zuckerberg also said Facebook will also update its interface to more easily show where news coming from, which will display the publisher’s logo next to every article on Facebook so users can gain context into what they’re reading.

Quebecor invests in the Imperial Theatre as a cultural venue

Media giant Quebecor has acquired the mortgage debt of the Imperial Theatre in Montreal, taking over debt for about a $5 million investment into the historical site. The future of the theatre was in doubt recently when creditors sought to takeover ownership as a result of unpaid debt. The acquisition is part of a strategic partnership with the non-profit organization that owns the theatre. Quebecor’s goal is to assist in the preservation of the building, which was built in 1913, and develop it as a cultural venue. The non-profit group will remain the owner, while Quebecor will have priority rental rights. The theatre has previously served as a venue for the World Film Festival. As a result of the deal, Quebecor CFO and SVP Jean-Francoid Pruneau and SVP, chief legal affairs and corporate secretary Marc M. Tremblay will join the theatre’s board of directors.

Cineplex launches The Rec Room in Edmonton Mall

Cineplex’s new entertainment venue, The Rec Room, has opened up a third location, this one in the West Edmonton Mall. The Rec Room, which is a combination of a dining, gaming and live entertainment establishment, is a major part of Cineplex’s current strategy to expand its brand beyond movies to general entertainment, as well as to older demographics beyond just families. Other recent moves include its expansion to e-sports tournaments and its partnership with U.S. golf chain TopGolf, on top of its growing digital and place-based advertising business. That diversification has helped offset a slight drop in revenue from ticket sales for the company — last quarter, box office revenue was down 1.7% year-over-year to $195.4 million. Despite the slight drop, total revenue from all ventures was up 2.6%, with the total brought in ($394.2 million) representing a record quarter.