In contrast to yesterday’s gloomy assessment of the ad market by Cordiant Communications [WAMN: 13-Aug-01], French counterpart Publicis Groupe issued a bullish statement on performance in the first half and forecast recovery in some areas.

Underlying sales rose 6.3% in the first six months of the year, an increase chairman Maurice Levy underplayed as “quite satisfactory” compared with across the board global growth of below 2%.

“In an unfavourable economic context, our commercial performances, in particular winning new budgets, assure us of growth that will largely exceed that of the market,” he continued.

Publicis achieved 8.2% organic growth in Europe, 5% in the US, 2.7% in Asia Pacific and 7.1% in Latin America and the rest of the world. It expects cost cutting, chiefly in the US, to aid interim profits.

Billings jumped 65% year-on-year from E4.57 billion to E7.54bn, reflecting last year’s purchase of Saatchi & Saatchi and Nelson Communications. Publicis also attracted E1.5bn in net new business during the first half, lagging only WPP Group, according to Credit Suisse First Boston.

“We do not expect any spectacular improvement in the second half,” Levy forecast, “but we believe that advertising spending could pick up again due to some particular segments.” Among the industries set to increase their ad budgets over the next few months are automobiles, retail and fmcg.

News sources: The Times (London); Publicis Groupe website