LONDON—Public relations and public affairs revenues at WPP Group—parent to Burson-Marsteller, Cohn & Wolfe, Hill & Knowlton and Ogilvy Public Relations Worldwide—grew by 0.7 percent in the first quarter of 2010, the first quarter of growth in a year.
While the numbers were an improvement over 2009, they lagged the growth at Omnicom, Havas and Publicis Groupe, all of which reported their first quarter numbers last week.
Overall, WPP first quarter revenues were £2.078 billion, down just under 2 percent from last year. Revenues in constant currency were up 0.5 percent, reflecting the strength of the pound sterling against the U.S. dollar and Euro. On a like-for-like basis, excluding the impact of acquisitions and currency fluctuations, revenues were flat—an indication that revenues have stabilized following declines of 5.8 percent in the same quarter last year and 7.2 percent in the last quarter.
“Although the last quarter of 2009 was certainly ‘less-worse,’ the start to 2010 seems to indicate a change in client attitudes,” said the company in a statement. “Calendar 2009 budgets, which are the vast majority, were prepared during or just following the Lehman crisis, staring into the abyss. Calendar 2010 budgets, on the other hand, were prepared having avoided the apocalypse or Armageddon and, perhaps, with more focus on how to achieve top-line growth, rather than on just cutting costs.
“The most marked change and turnaround in direction has, so far, been in the United States, where the monetary and fiscal stimulus seems to have had, perhaps not surprisingly, the most marked effect.” The United States saw constant currency growth of almost 4 percent.