Advertising still in the toilet
Chris Forrester

Judging whether the economy is on the up or still bumping along the bottom of a seemingly endless trough is tough. One speedy guide is to look at how the advertising agencies themselves are fairing. One pointer is media giant Havas, which unveiled its results on Oct 23. Havas looks after all aspects of the ad market, including TV, print and outdoor.

Havas reported overall revenues of €326m, down 10% y-o-y. Organic growth was down 9.3%. While there was a very marginal uptick in the run-rate of revenue decline (it had been down 9.8% in the second quarter), underlying trends deteriorated.

Investment bankers Morgan Stanley suggest that given the y-o-y comparison eased from +8.4% in 2Q08 to +1.5% in 3Q08, this implied the underlying quarter-on-quarter rate deteriorated by 6.4%. Havas issued no outlook for 4Q09.

The main areas of disappointment, based on Havas’ international activity, were France (-8.4% in 3Q vs -2.6% in 1H), the UK (-13.7% vs -9%), Latin America (-8% vs +2%). Areas of relative encouragement came from the US (-7.8% vs -10.5% in 1H), ‘Rest of Europe’ (-10.7% vs -13.4%) and Asia (-13% vs -22%).