New biz plummets

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New accounts in September were down 81% from the same time last year, according to a report from Credit Suisse First Boston analyst David McMurry. New business from accounts that had not previously engaged an agency was only $163 million in September, the lowest monthly number since Mr. McMurry began keeping track in 1999. Even excluding dot-com accounts, the $5.2 billion in net new business year-to-date is still 30% below last year. (See Turn Signals, P. 64.)

"It illustrates a point we've been making for some time: The new-business environment stinks," reads Mr. McMurry's report. To compile the report, the effect of agency shutdowns the week of Sept. 11 was balanced with data from agencies and trade sources not affected by the events.

Speaking at the Goldman Sachs & Co. Communacopia conference last week, WPP Group Chief Executive Martin Sorrell and Interpublic Group of Cos. Chairman John Dooner both said they expect to see more account consolidations this year. Mr. Sorrell added most changes would be made without lengthy reviews. (See For the Record, P 61.)

"We're going to have to ride a bit with the economy," Mr. Dooner said.

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