This week, the heads of big advertising conglomerates like Omnicom and WPP confirmed what most of us already suspected: The ad outlook for the near future is incredibly grim. As the Financial Times reported on Tuesday, Omnicom President and CEO John Wren said, “We think the first nine months of this year are going to be difficult.”
Difficult might be an understatement, with expectations for the group’s revenue to fall more than 7% this year. The FT article also noted that the Publicis Groupe expects revenues to decline, and WPP CEO Sir Martin Sorrel expects 2009 revenues to be flat.
But what does this mean for the PR agencies that fall under these behemoths’ umbrellas? Omnicom is the parent company of Fleishman-Hillard, WPP of Burson-Marsteller, Ogilvy and Hill & Knowlton, and Publicis of MS&L. In talking to many communications executives, I’ve heard that the dismal advertising outlook might mean good things for PR, especially as organizations shift dollars from marketing to efforts that do more to protect brands and bottom lines. Agree or disagree? Why?
By Courtney Barnes