IPG: Are fresh faces turning things around for advertising's least exciting company?

Traditionally faceless marketing group is looking rather interesting

Of the ‘big four’ advertising and PR holding firms, Interpublic Group has always been a little, er, dull.

While Sir Martin Sorrell (WPP boss) and Maurice Levy (Publicis) manage to be less than (entente) cordiale closer to home – there’s a personal dislike as well as professional rivalry between the British and French magnates – and US giant Omnicom licks its wounds after a failed merger with Publicis - IPG has tended to plod along.

Could all this be changing? The grey-coiffed CEO Michael Roth (68) still runs the ship – and took home a handsome $11 million last year – but a number of younger faces are starting to get noticed.

On Friday IPG announced what it described as ‘solid’ year-on-year growth of about five per cent for revenues and a double-digit jump in profits for the second quarter.  The owner of the FCB ad network and Weber Shandwick PR agency also revealed it had hired Mark Lund to run its flagship network McCann in the UK.  The former boss of the Central Office of Information and co-founder of the DLKW ad agency is renowned as one of the biggest brains in adland.

Meanwhile, across the Atlantic last year, Harris Diamond took over McCann globally. Diamond, a former PR man and Democrats political adviser, is another admired operator both here and in the US. Soon after his own appointment, Diamond named a Brit, Chris Macdonald, as president of McCann in America. Macdonald, who is a relatively young and charismatic ‘suit’ appears to be doing just fine in the Big Apple.

On the PR side of things Colin Byrne and Matt Neale, the European heads of Weber Shandwick and Golin respectively, are also seen as industry leaders, backing the right creativity and digital integration for global growth.

So suddenly, this traditionally faceless marketing group is looking rather interesting. This could help explain why the share price has steadily climbed over the past year, to over $19 per share at the time of writing.

On the other hand there is growing speculation that the whole group is about to be snapped up, most probably by the cash-rich Dentsu-Aegis.

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