Maja Pawinska Sims 05 Aug 2021 // 1:43PM GMT
LONDON — WPP has reported encouraging Q2 results, with like-for-like revenue across its PR division up by 12.9% compared to the same period last year.
It’s the second consecutive quarterly revenue rise for the division, whose PR agencies include BCW, Hill+Knowlton Strategies and Finsbury Glover Hering. The PR division had already risen by 2% in Q1 this year – its first quarterly revenue rise for two years.
Half-year like-for-like PR revenue growth compared to the first half of 2020 was 7.4%. In its statement to investors, WPP said growth in PR had been driven by “continued strong demand for strategic advice” and an “increasing client focus on purpose”.
WPP said of the PR division: “All parts of the business grew double-digits like-for-like in the second quarter, with Finsbury Glover Hering being the strongest performer”.
However, operating profit for the PR arm dropped by 11.7% in H1, with margins falling just over 2% to 14.8%. WPP said margins were affected by the “relatively strong” prior-year performance as well as “investment in people and merger-related costs”.
The PR division also performed less strongly than other parts of WPP in the period: the Global International Agencies division saw like-for-like revenue growth in Q2 of 19.2%, rising to 27.8% in the Specialist Agencies division.
In the Integrated Agencies division, WPP said Ogilvy had had “double digit like-for-like growth”.
Across the group, growth was especially strong in the UK (31.8%), India (30%) and Germany (20.3%), while the US reported like-for-like growth of 12.6%. Growth was 8.4% in Australia and 1.4% in Greater China.
Chief executive Mark Read said: “I’m delighted with our performance in the first six months of the year, at a time when Covid-19 continues to take a toll on many countries. The like-for-like revenue less pass-through costs growth rate of 19.3% in the second quarter is our highest on record, as clients reinvest in marketing, particularly in digital media, ecommerce and marketing technology. We have returned to 2019 levels in 2021, a year ahead of our plan, with good momentum into 2022.”
WPP’s results are in line with the more positive picture emerging across the holding companies: Interpublic’s Dxtra network, which includes Weber Shandwick, Golin, DeVries, Rogers & Cowan PMK and Current Global, reported double-digit growth for the quarter, while Omnicom’s PR agencies, including FleishmanHillard, Ketchum and Porter Novelli, reported 15.1% growth in Q2.