Last Updated Nov 3, 2009 3:24 PM EST
With the Q3 2009 earnings season in the rearview mirror, I can say my prediction was off the mark: The job situation at ad agencies is actually a lot worse than it looked before the U.S. holding companies made their earnings releases. It's not "dozens" of layoffs -- it's thousands.
Here's why: Interpublic (IPG) and WPP (WPPGY) both disclosed that the reduction in headcount at their agencies was far larger than previously reported. IPG said it had lost 5,100 jobs when previously only 3,000 lost jobs had been reported. WPP admitted 11,232 jobs were gone when previously only 7,800 job losses were reported.
The less transparent Publicis (PUB) has been secretive about its layoffs. It admitted to 1,800 in July but has not disclosed meaningful numbers since.
In addition, Cliff Freeman & Partners closed its doors.
All this leads me to believe that layoffs at ad agencies -- such as McCann -- have been much more numerous than the business has so far admitted. This does not bode well for the vast army of laid off ad professionals seeking new jobs.
Here's one ray of light. This is a chart from WPP's most recent investor presentation, breaking down growth by region. Note that all areas of WPP's business are still in decline (they're below the 0% line), but that the rate of decline is slowing in the U.S. and Western Europe:
- McCann Is Hemorrhaging Jobs and Clients, and CEO Dooner Needs to Name a Successor
- Cliff Freeman to Shut Down After Series of Weird Events (and Client Losses)
- WPP Q3: Sorrell's Obsession With "Armageddon, Apocalypse" and Lehman Continues: 11,232 Jobs Lost
- Omnicom's Wren: Chrysler Is "at Risk" and We're Pitching; 5,000 Jobs Lost Since '08
- Why Ad Agencies Are Still Shedding Jobs Even Though "Recovery" Is Around the Corner
- Omnicom Q3: Old-School U.S. Agencies Are Biggest Earners
- MDC Partners Q3: Net Income Not Noted in "Preliminary" Numbers
- Q3 Preview: Revenues, Not Earnings, Will Be Agencies' Key Measure - and They Will Be Down
- Omnicom, Interpublic Won't See Daylight on Revenues Until 2010, Say Analysts
- Recovery Ahead? Publicis, Omnicom Are Positive While WPP, IPG Stay Cautious
- BNET's Ad Agency Layoff Counter: 37,415 Jobs Lost