Michael Roth Looks at Trump Victory Optimistically for IPG

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Interpublic CEO Michael Roth at the Ad Age Digital Conference
Interpublic CEO Michael Roth at the Ad Age Digital Conference Credit: Patrick Butler

While Interpublic Group CEO Michael Roth said the holding company hasn't seen any industry impact yet as a result of the election, he's optimistic about some potential changes that could come after Donald Trump takes office.

"If [Mr. Trump's] successful in getting tax rates down and less regulation in certain industries, that bodes well for us as a company," said Mr. Roth at the UBS Global Media and Communications Conference Tuesday. "We're a tax payer in the United States, so any reduction in tax rates obviously helps us from a cash goal and P&L point of view, and to the extent of jobs being created and consumers feeling better, that's good for us as well, so I'm rooting for it."

Mr. Roth said he's had a few conversations with clients about whether or not they plan on changing spending habits due to the election results, and though they want to see what happens, "everyone is encouraged by it."

Despite a bit of pullback in the healthcare sector in Q3, the U.S., which makes up 61% of IPG's business, is still poised for growth, said Mr. Roth. "I haven't seen any dramatic changes in the tone of the business," he said, adding that he's "comfortable with our position in the U.S. and abroad." The holding company's digital agencies are growing in the double digits, he added, and digital will pass linear TV in 2017.

When it comes to new business and reviews for next year, Mr. Roth said the "tailwinds going into 2017 aren't as high as they've been historically." IPG won a fair amount of pitches and retained business, such as the BMW media account, this year, but it chose not to participate in some more recent reviews due to conflicts or not being a roster agency. "This is a business that is a little bit fickle, but we'll be very competitive and we hope to continue our strong performance," he said.

One area Mr. Roth is very confident about is media transparency, having been the only holding company CEO that agreed to meet with the Association of National Advertisers and K2 Intelligence earlier this year for its media investigation. Mr. Roth said IPG addressed transparency issues more than 10 years ago and reviewed all contracts then, so the holding company has been ahead of the game on this issue.

The holding company has also already had some audits on existing media business and has "done very well," said Mr. Roth.

"There's no question that transparency is at the front of pitches in terms of conversations and we continue to have very positive feedback," he added.

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