The CEOs of two of the largest ad-agency-holding companies downplayed talk
of a full advertising recovery in the very near future.
Both CEOs -- Martin Sorrell of London's WPP Group plc and Maurice Levy of Publicis Groupe S.A. -- said the ad-growth outlook for the next 18 months will
be modest at best.
After nine years of unprecedented growth in the 1990s, which was followed by
last year's recession, "It's only realistic that it will take a long time" for
things to turn around completely, Sorrell said. "We see no indication yet of any
turn," he said, adding, "Our own view is that a pronounced recovery will
have to wait to 2004," when the Athens Olympic Games and presidential-election-campaign spending will tighten inventory. "Growth will be driven by the American
market," Sorrell said.
Levy was a little more optimistic, predicting less than 2 percent growth in
overall ad spending for 2002, while 2003 may be slightly better than that -- up
3 percent to 3.5 percent.
Both executives agreed that the business outlook is still very cautious and
that companies generally are still focused more on costs and cost-cutting than
they are on investment spending to drive revenue growth.
Sorrell and Levy made their comments Tuesday at the AdWatch: Outlook 2002
advertising conference in New York.