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New business activity in August continued to run weaker than last year's, but the economic upturn is expected to perk up activity later in the year. Only 36 accounts worth $1 billion changed agencies in August, compared to 45 accounts worth $1.3 billion in August 2002. Grey Global Group was a big winner, thanks to Grey Worldwide's win of the Kmart account from Omnicom Group's TBWA/Chiat/Day.WPP Group was nearly flat due to its acquisition of Cordiant Communications Group in late August. WPP's biggest loss-the Pfizer account at Bates Worldwide-was also its biggest win, when it moved to J. Walter Thompson Co.

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Rally loses steam: Profit-taking and mixed economic signals put the brakes on the stock-market rally. An upward revision to the second-quarter growth rate of the gross domestic product helped, but portfolio managers sold off stock to lock in gains before reporting third-quarter results to their clients. Investors were also put off late in the week by another drop in the bellwether University of Michigan Consumer Confidence index. Only three AdMarket stocks were up, 46 were down and Tribune Corp. was unchanged.

Agency and media stocks took a strong hit after Viacom downgraded its earnings estimates for the year, blaming a weak local advertising market. The news hit radio station owners hard, led by Clear Channel Communications. Havas was the worst of the agency stocks, a week after announcing large first-half losses.

Advertising Age and Bloomberg's AdMarket 50 index of 50 top publicly traded marketer, agency and media companies for the week ended Sept. 26, based on stock trading data supplied by Bloomberg financial news service. All comparisons are vs. closing prices Sept. 19. Full data available on Bloomberg terminals under index BAAX.

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