Diana Marszalek 19 Feb 2021 // 2:48AM GMT
NEW YORK — Omnicom PR agencies’ revenue rose 0.2% in Q4, the first reported uptick in business since the onset of the Covid 19 pandemic last March, although business was down 4.2% during 2020 as a whole.
In its fourth quarter earnings report, the holding company reported companywide losses during 2020, as well as the three months ending December 31, primarily due to the coronavirus outbreak. Omnicom as a whole saw its worldwide revenue drop 11.9% during 2020 and 9.3% during the fourth quarter of the year.
During 2020, Omnicom PR Group — which includes FleishmanHillard, Ketchum and Porter Novelli — performed notably better than other Omnicom disciplines including advertising, which decreased 12.2%; CRM consumer experience, which decreased 15.8% and; CRM execution & support, which decreased 15.1%. Healthcare increased 3.3%.
The PR agencies outperformed other disciplines during Q4 as well, during which advertising decreased 9.7%; CRM consumer decreased 15.8%; CRM execution & support decreased 13.7%; and healthcare, which had been up in Q2 and Q3, decreased 2%.
Thursday’s Q4 report was a notably positive turn for Omnicom’s PR agencies, which saw revenue drop 3.4% in Q3 and 13.5% during Q2, the height of the pandemic shutdown. PR revenue had earlier risen a tick during Q1 of this year.
All of which occurred against the backdrop of Omnicom and its agencies, including its PR firms, implementing layoffs and furloughs around the world in response to business drying up.
In the earnings call, Omnicom Chairman and CEO John Wren said:
Although we see hope as the vaccine rolls out, we know there are still significant challenges that will impact 2021. In evaluating 2021, the first quarter has difficult comps. COVID lockdowns did not meaningfully impact our operations until mid March 2020. Looking beyond the first quarter, our current expectations for the balance of the year is that we will achieve positive organic growth. While we hope the end is insight, the virus has surprised us, so we must remain vigilant and adaptable in planning and managing our operations. And that is exactly what we're doing. Our agency leaders have done an excellent job of managing our cost base to be aligned with revenues and that the work continues into 2021. At the same time, we remain laser focused on driving our strategic priorities to expand our clients' services and win new business.
I want to take a moment to thank all of our people. 2020 challenge everybody, both personally and professionally and our performance in 2020 is directly tied to your perseverance. Everyone in our company can relate when I say the pandemic was and is all consuming. We dealt with the effects at home with our families and friends, and then at work. We yet, again, had to deal with its affects on our businesses and our clients. So I want to sincerely thank everybody for their hard work, because I know it was more than difficult. I and all the leaders across the group appreciate what you did and are continuing to do to help us get through this.
Omnicom is the latest in a string of PR organizations reporting their end-of-year results. Interpublic Group released its Q4 earnings, reporting that its PR group experienced a drop in revenue in the mid-single digits during 2020 as well as the quarter. Edelman reported its annual revenue declined 5.7%.