Agency new business activity suffered from a slight post-Olympic hangover in November. Fourty-four accounts changed agencies during the month, up 16% from 38 a year ago, and they added up to $1.6 billion in billings, up 37% from $1.2 billion the same month last year. But a large portion of the turnover came from large accounts, including the moves of Samsung's creative and media account and Unilever's European media consolidation, both of which shifted billings from Interpublic Group of Cos. to WPP Group. While Interpublic continued to struggle with $1.5 billion in account losses in three months, the Samsung and Unilever wins put WPP ahead of perennial new-business champ Omnicom Group in the year-to-date numbers.
Reports of a stronger-than-expected holiday season did not help the markets much, as investors sold off, anticipating disappointments in the earnings report season about to begin. An encouraging industrial-production report could not offset a selloff brought on by another oil-price spike late in the week. For the week, 21 AdMarket stocks were up, 28 were down, and Wal-Mart Stores was unchanged, even as the retailer took a more aggressive tack to spruce up its corporate reputation (See The Week, p. 12).
Walt Disney Co. got a boost from an upgrade by Merrill Lynch & Co. while General Motors Corp. took a hit when analysts questioned whether it will reach its profit targets. Altria Group rose after it raised prices on most of its cigarette brands and cut back on promotions.
Advertising Age and Bloomberg's AdMarket 50 index of 50 top publicly traded marketer, agency and media companies for the week ended Jan. 14, based on stock trading data supplied by Bloomberg financial news service. All comparisons are vs. closing prices Jan. 7.