Tale of the tape: Omnicom vs. WPP

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Omnicom Group

Age: 19

2004 revenue: $9.7 B, +13%

Industry rank: No. 1

2004 profits: $724 M, +7%

Market cap: $16.7 B

Stock tip: What you'd have today if you invested $100 in Omnicom stock 10 years ago: $686

Clients: Apple, DaimlerChrysler, Dell, Gillette, McDonald's, Nissan, PepsiCo, Subaru, Visa, Volkswagen, Wal-Mart

What it owns: 1,500 agencies including three of the world's best creative agency networks: BBDO, DDB and TBWA. Media agency OMD is a powerhouse, but Omnicom must build out fledgling PHD. Owns top-flight PR brands Ketchum and Fleishman-Hillard.

President-CEO: John Wren

Age: 52

Pay day (2003): $3.4 M

Hourly wage for 40-hour week: $1,613

Wren's Omnicom share stake/value: 0.2%/$33.8 M

Background check: Joined Arthur Andersen in 1974; assistant controller at conglomerator Norton Simon, `81-`84; joined Needham Harper, `84; went to Omnicom after '86 rollup of DDB, Needham and BBDO; CEO since 1997.

Need to know: Hands-off manager. Runs a buttoned-down holding company that reports remarkably consistent results in a normally cyclical business. Prefers Omnicom to be the holding company in the background, leaving client work up to the agency brands. That's made it easier for Omnicom to manage competing brands, such as its car accounts.

Source: Advertising Age analysis, Bloomberg, company reports

WPP Group

Age: 20

2004 revenue: $7.9 B, +17%

Industry rank No. 2

2004 profits: $536 M, +57%

Market cap: $13.8 B

Stock tip: What you'd have today if you invested $100 in WPP stock 10 years ago: $681

Clients: Altria (Kraft), American Express, AT&T, Colgate-Palmolive, Ford, GlaxoSmithKline, IBM, Nestle, Pfizer, Unilever

What it owns: Robust agency networks O&M and JWT; floundering network Y&R; new addition Grey Worldwide. Media buying strength comes from MindShare, Mediaedge:cia and Grey's MediaCom. Betting big on research, including Millward Brown and Kantar.

Group Chief Executive: Martin Sorrell

Age: 60

Pay day (2003): $3.1 M

Hourly wage for 40-hour week: $1,513

Sorrell's WPP share stake/value: 1.5%/$204 M

Background check: Finance director from 1970s to mid-`80s at acquisitive Saatchi & Saatchi. While at Saatchi, bought stake in British basket maker Wire & Plastic Products. Used WPP as shopping cart to buy JWT, O&M, Y&R, Cordiant and, closing today, Grey.

Need to know: Hands-on boss with fingers on BlackBerry. Superman behind the superagency. Thrives on trading intelligence. Constant industry presence; a brand in his own right. Obsessed about strategizing and playing his game, building one-on-one relationships with clients, the Street and the press.

Source: Advertising Age analysis, Bloomberg, company reports

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