WPP revenue declines, IPG’s jumps in Q1

WPP continues to feel the effects of client losses, while IPG's CEO emphasized its commitment to investing in its agency brands.
CarpathianPrince / Shutterstock.com

Holding companies WPP and IPG posted very different results during the first quarter of 2019.

Across WPP, like-for-like revenue was down 2.8% compared to Q1 last year. In a press release about the results CEO Mark Read attributed the losses, which were in line with the company’s expectations, to previous client losses, which have included Ford, GSK, United Airlines and American Express. Those losses were felt especially hard in North America, where the decline was 8.5%.

Read also said that some of the moves it has made since last fall – such as merging and condensing agency brands – would help cut costs and improve performance in future quarters, especially in North America, as would ongoing investment into its creative talent as part of a three-year plan.

IPG also released its Q1 results today, reporting net revenue growth of 6.4% across the holding company, including 5.7% in the U.S. and 7.7% internationally.

Whereas WPP has been working to simplify its business and reduce its size by merging and consolidating its agency brands, IPG CEO Michael Roth said in an earnings call that the holding company had been investing in its individual agency brands, as that is how to get “the best creative.”

“When we say we are a client-centric holding company, it means we support and invest in our agency brands, and put collaboration at our core,” he said. “This focus has meant we remain vital in new business, we drive high levels of industry recognition, and we are able to attract and retain talent who want to develop their careers with us.”

Late last year, IPG acquired data-driven marketing company Acxiom. While its capabilities have mostly been used on the media front, Roth said that, going forward, its capabilities would be used to unlock opportunities on the creative front as well.

This story originally appears in strategy.