New business activity was mixed in January, with fewer accounts changing agencies, but a larger amount in billings moving. Only 35 accounts changed hands, compared to 43 a year ago, but they were worth $1.2 billion, up 6% from $1.1 billion last year. Omnicom Group remains at the top of the new business derby, but its dominance has become less pronounced in recent months, as merger-related disruptions at rival holding companies subside. Omnicom was helped in January by TBWA's win of the Pedigree dog food account from Mars Inc.'s Masterfoods USA and BBDO's win of additional business from Gillette Corp. Meanwhile WPP Group took a hit due to Y&R Advertising's loss of the Burger King Corp. account to Crispin Porter & Bogusky, an affiliate of Canada's MDC Corp.
Queasy investor selloff: The markets hovered near unchanged most of the week, in spite of a continued flow of good news. The indices didn't budge even after the government revised the fourth-quarter growth rate for the Gross Domestic Product to add more business spending. Many investors sold off to cash in gains. For the week, 20 AdMarket stocks were up and 30 were down.
Agency and media stocks were mixed, with Omnicom Group and Interpublic Group of Cos. rising while rivals Publicis Groupe and WPP Group slid in spite of posting positive numbers (see story, right). Fast-feeders got a boost from two positive analyst reports, which led McDonald's Corp. to hit a 52-week high. Meanwhile, Clear Channel Communications' crackdown on radio indecency did nothing for its stock.
Advertising Age and Bloomberg's AdMarket 50 index of 50 top publicly traded marketer, agency and media companies for the week ended Feb. 27, based on stock trading data supplied by Bloomberg financial news service. All comparisons are vs. closing prices Feb. 20. Full data available on Bloomberg terminals under index BAAX.