French Firms Take the Lead in the Advertising Wars

French advertising giants saw the smallest loss in revenue compared to their U.K. and U.S. peers. Ooh la la! The French trumped the Brits and the Americans in 2009's battle between advertising goliaths.

In terms of like-for-like organic revenue loss, Havas (HAVSF) and Publicis Groupe (PUBGY), France's two major marketing services' holding companies, lost the smallest percentage compared to their peers, which include Omnicom Group (OMC) and the Interpublic Group (IPG), both U.S.-based, and Britain's WPP Group (WPPGY).

Havas, which this week became the latest of the group to announce results, saw an organic revenue drop of 7.9% in the full year of 2009. Meanwhile, Publicis performed the best on this scale, with an organic revenue loss of 6.5%.

French Firms Trop Petits

Meanwhile, WPP, the owner of venerable agency brands such as Ogilvy & Mather and JWT, saw like-for-like revenue down 8.1%. Interpublic, which earned dubious noteriety for a whopping 37% plunge in fourth-quarter profit and which owns agencies McCann Erickson, Draftfcb and Lowe Worldwide, saw 10.8% declines in organic growth. Omnicom, which owns global powerhouses BBDO, TBWA\Chiat\Day and DDB, faced an organic revenue drop of 8.7%.

Now let's look at like-for-like in a different way. Interpublic's drop of 10.8% translated to a loss of $752.6 million on revenue of about $6 billion, while Omnicom's drop of 8.7% equaled a loss of $1.2 billion on revenue of $11.7 billion. WPP, the largest in terms of revenue, brought in about $13.1 billion.

These figures make the French companies seem a little trop petits. Havas's total revenue for 2009 was about $1.9 billion and Publicis' revenue came out to approximately $6.2 billion.
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