Levy calls an end to the ad slump


WSJ reports Maurice Levy, CEO of Publicis Groupe predicted this week the company would start growing “organic revenue” by the middle of next year because ad markets have started a gradual recovery.

Publicis’ Saatchi and Saatchi posted a 7.4% drop in Q3 organic revenue, which excludes the impact of any acquisitions and disposals and currency moves. The figure was an improvement on the 8.6% decline in Q2.

Advertising worldwide has been in decline since the summer of 2008 as major companies cut ad spending in response to the credit crunch and the economic downturn. However, Levy said the market hit a bottom in June and that the recovery seen in the third quarter should continue into Q4 and beyond. He predicted Publicis should outperform the expected 10% decline for the global ad market in 2009 and could post organic growth for the whole of 2010 once it returns to growth around the middle of next year. Publicis agency ZenithOptimedia last week forecast that global advertising spending would grow 0.5% in 2010.

“The advertising market has stopped deteriorating during the summer and a slow and gradual recovery is under way,” he told reporters. The company is looking for acquisition targets to continue growth in China, as well as opportunities to strengthen its position in India, he added.

Levy has been one of the first industry executives to call the recovery of the advertising market. While Omnicom CEO John Wren last week said that client spending was showing signs of stability, other ad executives, such as WPP’s Martin Sorrell and Havas’ CEO Fernando Rodes Vila have been reticent in forecasting a return to growth.