For Big Media, “Getting Better” Means “Less Bad”

Published on February 17, 2010
by Peter Kafka

Last year was so lousy for so many media companies that it’s tempting to pretend it didn’t happen. But 2009 provides important context when you see reports about improved results. Because those often just mean “less bad.”

Today’s example: Publicis, the giant French ad holding company. Publicis said its organic growth–that’s revenue after factoring out acquisitions like Razorfish, which it picked up in a fire sale from Microsoft (MSFT), etc.–declined by 5.4 percent, which is better than the 7.4 percent drop it posted in Q3. But this still means the company is shrinking, and that’s compared with dismal results from a year ago.

Publicis now says it expects to actually grow this year, so that’s good. But it’s not projecting anything substantial for another year.

“We have not yet come out of the crisis. We are in the process of getting out of it. One can still expect a few hurdles along the way, but the worst is over,” says CEO Maurice Levy.

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