WPP supremo Mark Read appears surprisingly upbeat ahead of tomorrow’s announcement (UK time) of the holding company’s half-year numbers.
The boss of the world’s biggest media company has optimistically declared “the worst is behind us” when it comes to dealing with the fallout from the global pandemic.
In an interview with US news site CNBC, Read said he believed that advertising spends were starting to recover as brands could sniff a light at the end of the CV-19 tunnel.
It also follows on from news that most WPP territories – including Australia – have returned to normal working hours and had staff bonuses reintroduced. Although not everyone’s yet returned to the office.
The reason for Read’s cautious optimism came from the messaging he was seeing in many of the agency’s advertising.
Rather than promoting safety – as many brands had done since the pandemic broke in February – Read believed the messaging was now all about getting back to business.
And if the shutdown has had a silver lining, it had opened Read’s eyes when it comes to saving money on unnecessary travel and the value of shorter remote meetings. Arguably bad news for WPP employees planning a trip to Cannes next year.
Read telling CNBC that quarantines had accelerated “decades of innovation packed into about four months” and added that WPP’s role in navigating new technologies makes the company more essential than ever before to its clients.
The WPP boss had previously said that money saved on rent when employees worked remotely could now be reinvested back into staff training.
It’s unusual that a CEO would make these sorts of comments before the release of half-yearly numbers (again, due tomorrow). So, it’s anticipated that they’ll be rosier than Read or the markets had expected.
The WPP share price has recovered steadily from its low earlier in 2020, that said it’s still way off its peak when the company was valued at almost £20 billion against its current valuation of £7.6 billion.
Of the holding companies to report thus far, Omnicom was worst with organic growth down 23 per cent, then Dentsu and Publicis both down 13 per cent and IPG down 9.9 per cent.
However, its Aussie operations may weigh heavily on WPP’s global numbers tomorrow.
As reported on B&T last Thursday, WPP AUNZ unveiled its local profits for H1, with headline earnings before interest and tax were down 61.5 per cent to $13.3 million.
CEO of Aussie operations Jens Monsees also mirroring Mark Read’s cautious optimism.
“We are spot on with our strategy to transform and grow our business by capturing new, digital areas of the marketing and communications landscape,” Monsees said. “This is more relevant today than ever before as our clients start to transition to a much more digital future.”