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The end of history for IPG

February 27, 2009

Interpublic’s Q4 figures just out. Profits down 4.?% yawn, yawn, yawn. Here’s an extract, if you’d like something with fewer harmful side-effects than Mogadon:

“The latter part of the fourth quarter and early part of 2009 have begun to show the negative effect that the broader economic situation is having on the marketing services sector,” said Michael Roth, chairman and chief executive of Interpublic.
But wait, what’s this? “Our long-standing conservative approach to financial and balance sheet management has us well positioned for these volatile times.” Would that be the self-same “conservative approach”, Michael, that your company was forced to adopt after an accountancy scandal which gave a new meaning to “double entry” book-keeping? Which resulted in several senior people in the McCann Erickson network being fired? Oh, and which precipitated a six-year long investigation by the US Securities and Exchange Commission, poleaxing IPG’s share-price all the while? And, and, and…culminated in a $12m fine last year?
As it happens, I think Roth has got quite a few corporate talents, in his dull, lawerly way. And keeping the basket-case that was IPG from ruin, or the depredations of Vincent Bolloré and Sir Martin Sorrell, have shown them to good effect over the decade. One quality I hadn’t attributed to him, though, was irony. How unamerican of him.
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A blues paper not a newspaper

February 27, 2009

Fresh cracks in the House of Usher… I mean Rothermere. First there was the fire sale of The Evening Standard for £1 to a former KGB agent, an act of impiety that would have made the late earl turn in his grave.

Now news of something much worse. The government has decided to put down that mangy old bulldog, Paul Dacre. It’s official, according to Cabinet Office minister Liam Byrne – who told the Commons public administration committee this week that the days of the Daily Mail setting government agenda are definitely over.
So what does set the governmental pulse racing these days, Liam? Well not the tabloid newspapers any more, which sell 22m fewer copies than in 1997. And not the TV news channels, whose viewers “have collapsed” (does he mean they’re now so old they need zimmer frames, I wonder?).
No, these days it’s all about Facebook, YouTube and freesheets. But he did draw the line at cultivating Twitter. Apparently, ministers are far too busy saving the world/fending off inquiries into their illegitimate expenses to be tweeting.
For someone who’s got a Harvard MBA, Liam is acting incredibly dumb. He doesn’t seem to have noticed that none of his preferred media vehicles is capable of making money. Give the Noughties Depression another 12 months and the government may well have to rethink its ‘new’ media strategy rather quickly.

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