Agency Brief: WPP revenue rises but profits dip in first half; MediaMonks ramps up production
WPP reports its second-quarter earnings on Friday,with some better-than-expected surprises. The company sees its revenue return to growth, up 1.6 percent in the first half of the year and 2.3 percent in the second quarter. In North America, revenue rises 0.4 percent in the second quarter but falls 0.2 percent in the first half. U.K. revenue is up 2.9 percent and 1.1 percent in the second quarter and first half, respectively.
Like-for-like revenue, less pass-through costs, improves in the second quarter but is still down 1.4 percent overall and down 5.3 percent in North America. The company’s profits are down a significant 44 percent and billings down 0.5 percent in the first half. WPP stock climbs 5.12 percent in New York on Friday afternoon.
WPP CEO Mark Read says the revenue boost is helped by new client wins including eBay, Instagram and L’Oréal. He notes strong growth from clients in technology and (surprisingly) consumer packaged goods, which historically has been the drag on results, but “weakness in health care" (the big moneymaker for agencies).
“The majority of our revenue declines were concentrated in a small number of clients which underwent account reviews in 2018, or which significantly reduced their spending in 2019,” Read says, pointing out that the group did win assignments from Ferring, Merck, Pfizer, Walgreens and Walmart in the second quarter.
News from that other advertising group across the pond
MediaMonks, the production shop owned by Martin Sorrell’s S4 Capital, has opened a new “production hub of the future” in Los Angeles, its second in the city. The new 7,000-square-foot facility on Electric Ave. was established to deliver digital assets—including film, photography, graphics and web platforms—“faster and more efficiently than conventional industry models,” playing on S4’s mantra of “faster, better, cheaper.” The hub houses about 50 creatives, animators, editors, designers and developers with plans to grow the team over the coming months. It complements MediaMonks’ other production hubs in Amsterdam, São Paulo, Buenos Aires and Bangalore to create essentially an “ongoing production engine that runs 24/7 for our clients,” says MediaMonks Managing Director Olivier Koelemij. There is also a post-production studio tied to the new facility and Koelemij claims the shop can turn around digital content for clients in just one day.
Intel geeks out in latest campaign
Doremus San Francisco, Omnicom’s business-to-business specialty shop, puts an end to an escalating debate between two colleagues in IT over what is more important: performance or value. It doesn’t take a genius to guess that Intel’s position in the campaign, called “No Debate,” is “with us, you get both!” Doremus, the global b-to-b specialist marketing agency of record for Intel, partners with New York-based production company Cowboy Bear Ninja to create the spot, which is part of a larger campaign spanning digital, social and out-of-home components in San Francisco, San Jose and Austin, Texas. Doremus Chief Creative Officer Joe McCormack and Brett Barash, director of Intel’s global creative and experience group, tell Ad Age in a collective statement that the goal of the campaign is to “reassert Intel’s leadership and accuracy about performance and value in the cloud.” They say, “we also wanted to use relatable humor to cut through the noise.” Relatable to techies, of course.
As one door closes, another opens
As the lights went out this week at an iconic independent creative agency, Barton F. Graf, others looking to enter the game remain undeterred. Will Thacker and Andrew Barnard, former executive creative director and managing director, respectively, of 18 Feet & Rising, launch a new creative company that aims to merge agency, production and in-house skills into one. Named 20something, the company says it combines creative and production earlier in the development process of a campaign than most traditional agencies. It also claims to provide a “plug-in/plug-out system that’s more cost-effective for brands needing ideas and execution” while collapsing “the silos between agencies and production companies.” The company will be leaner and operate on a strictly project-based model, “with clients only paying for what they need.” Thacker says, “The ad industry has cannibalized itself year-on-year in a desperate attempt to survive. Client-mirrored teams, undercutting costs, consolidated offerings. … There is a better way to generate creative work.”
WPP rebrands a piece of Possible under Wunderman Thompson
WPP is rebranding Possible Mobile—a creative, data and technology agency—to Wunderman Thompson Mobile. Clients of the agency include Turner Sports, JetBlue Airways and PGA Tour. This follows this week's news that Swift CEO and Co-Founder Liz Valentine will become chief executive of Wunderman Thompson's west region, as Isobar Chief Growth Officer Melissa Dorko becomes chief growth officer of Wunderman Thompson North America and Carrie Philpott, managing director of Interpublic Group's Huge Atlanta, is poached as president of Wunderman Thompson Atlanta.
Brooklyn creative shop moves into performance marketing
Brooklyn’s AGW Group, founded in 2013 by CEO Adam Gorode and Chief Operating Officer Katie Witkin, is expanding its capabilities into performance marketing. The self-described culture marketing and communications agency that has worked with Red Bull and HBO says brand marketing and performance marketing have historically gone against one another—the one honing in on developing relationships with consumers through ongoing dialogues and the other focused on “short-term business objectives in efficiency and conversions over affinity.” Gorode says AGW is merging the two to work in tandem because “this disparity is a problem that plays out with alarming regularity, especially as digital media spends are projected to outpace traditional media by the end of the year.” AGW has been slowly building the practice out over the last year, retraining current staff and hiring new talent while partnering with Google’s Accelerator Team. AGW is now handling all of client ’47’s media duties, after the Boston-based maker of sports hats and apparel consolidated its full account with the agency that was already handling branding, social and PR.
Some wins of the week
TBWA\London wins the global account of semiconductor company Advanced Micro Devices (AMD) following a review. The Omnicom agency will handle brand strategy, a full-scale campaign and a series of product launches for the company. TBWA\London becomes AMD’s first integrated agency appointment, and the agency expects to debut its first work for the brand later in 2019. That campaign will span 18 territories including Australia, Canada, Germany, U.K. and U.S., and will include video content, digital, social, retailer and partnership communications. “TBWA\London impressed us with their disruptive thinking and storytelling, and we liked the way they challenged our ideas around strategy, creative and design,” says AMD Chief Marketing Officer John Taylor.
Omnicom-owned Zimmerman becomes agency of record for Think About Your Eyes, the national public awareness campaign for vision health, following a review. The first campaign is expected to debut sometime in 2020, “and will be tied to pop culture elements aiming to reach and engage more consumers,” according to the agency. Work begins immediately and spans strategic planning, creative development, media planning and buying, digital, social media activation and “hyperlocal go-to-market deployment.” The national Think About Your Eyes initiative was launched in 2014 and claims as a result, 8 million eye exams have been conducted. “But we need to increase those numbers considerably,” says Jane Balek, executive director of Think About Your Eyes.
Some promotions and hires of the week
FCB Brazil names agency veteran Ricardo John as its new chief executive and chief creative officer. He starts on Sept. 9 and hails most recently from J. Walter Thompson Brazil, where he held the same titles. This marks John’s return to the FCB network, having served as executive creative director for the agency from 2006 to 2011. John is one of the most-awarded creatives in Brazil, having collected 40 Cannes Lions, 24 One Show Pencils, six D&AD Pencils and 12 Effies. He succeeds CEO Aurélio Lopes, who moves into the role of FCB chairman of Brazil and Latin America, and chief creative officer Joanna Monteiro, who will lead special creative projects across FCB’s global network going forward.
As Kyoko Matsushita becomes global CEO of GroupM’s Essence, Jennifer Remling joins GroupM as chief people officer. Remling, who replaces longtime Talent Chief Executive Tim Cecere, was global chief talent officer of Essence. Cecere moves to WPP in the new role of global head of people transformation.
IPG’s Golin brings on Paul Parton, who most recently ran The Brooklyn Brothers agency he founded in 2005 as president, as its first group chief strategy officer. (The Brooklyn Brothers was acquired by Golin in 2016.) In his 25 years in the industry, Parton has worked with brands including Hershey, PepsiCo and Lululemon, among others. One of his first duties as group chief strategy officer will be to launch a new strategic-planning process across Golin’s 50 global offices.
Movement Strategy hires Samantha Reeb-Wilson as group director of business strategy in its New York office. Reeb-Wilson previously was group account director at 160over90, where she led clients in higher education, professional sports, health care and packaged goods. She has also spent time at J. Walter Thompson (now part of Wunderman Thompson), Ogilvy, McGarryBowen and Berlin Cameron.
WPP’s Hudson Rogue New York brings on Mary Ellen Verrusio as head of integrated production. She previously worked full-time and as a freelancer with Publicis Sapient, BBH, McGarryBowen, FCB and JWT, among others. She’s produced award-winning campaigns for Lincoln, The New York Times, Ally Bank, Tribeca Film Festival and Dove.
San Francisco-based Argonaut, part of Project Worldwide, brings on Jon Drawbaugh as head of production. A veteran of agencies R/GA, Wieden & Kennedy, Arnold Worldwide and DDB, Drawbaugh will oversee film, print and interactive, business affairs and production operations. The agency also recently adds Chad Leitz as group creative director, Jordan Wood and Michael Ton as group brand directors and Jim Vaughan as executive producer.
Global content studio Pulse Films signs director Bruce St. Clair to its commercials roster in North America. St. Clair, a car-commercials connoisseur of sorts, has garnered recognition from Cannes Lions, D&AD’s and the Clios, and worked on spots for Mercedes, Ikea, Audi, Mini, Kia and Fiat.
Minnesota agency Broadhead hires Steve Renier as senior vice president of talent. He joins from Periscope, where he led the human resources team.