WPP's Sorrell Uses Earnings Call To Insult 'Sludgy Brown' Publicis-Omnicom Merger

In its first earnings presentation since Omnicom and Publicis announced they planned to merge last month, WPP expressed a lack of concern Thursday at the consolidation that would knock it from its perch as the world’s largest advertising holding company.

WPP highlighted the regulatory issues, potential internal conflicts, and “clunky” organizational structure that will befall Publicis Omnicom Group in a press release declaring that the merger would not harm its business.

“All in all, we believe a post-POG world presents us and other competitors, as a result, with enhanced opportunities and is at worst neutral and at best highly positive, resulting in further consolidation and concentration,” the release said.

WPP CEO Martin Sorrell went even further, slinging barbs at his new, bigger rival:

“Its structure and organisation is clunky,” he said in a statement. “Potential client and, even more importantly, people conflicts are considerable, exacerbated by a lack of pre-announcement consultation.”

Ad Age noted:

WPP charts represented “POG” with what he described as “a sludgy brown colour,” which Mr. Sorrell gleefully explained was what you get when you mix purple and orange [the corporate colours of Publicis and Omnicom].

WPP said that in response, it will continue to invest in growth areas like new media, data investment management, and rapidly developing markets. The holding company, home to agencies Burson-Marstellar, Ogilvy, and Grey, said it has raised its fast-growth markets and new media sector targets from 35-40% of total revenues to 40-45% each over the next five years.

The company also said it would continue to leverage its “Team” approach, which offers clients brand-specific teams made up of personnel from various WPP agencies.

“Again, a reinforcement of the same strategy, but more and faster, as we have already started to implement,” the release said.

WPP slightly raised its 2013 forecast from just more than 3% growth, but did not say what the new target was. The company reported top-line revenue of $US8.2 billion, and like-for-like growth of 2.4%.

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