It’s no secret that 2017 was a weak year for the major Adland holding companies. Organic growth was in the low single digits and suppressed by clients that spent less on media and continued to put pressure on fees paid to agencies.
Company reports show that executive compensation reflected the less-than-stellar performance at the four biggest holding companies, where total compensation was down in 2017 (versus the prior year) for the CEOs at Omnicom, Interpublic and WPP.
Publicis was the exception, but likely because Arthur Sadoun assumed the top spot in mid-year.
Omnicom president and CEO John Wren was top earner among the four major holding companies last year, raking in total compensation of nearly $24 million, down about $2 million from his pay total in 2016.
IPG’s Michael Roth took in nearly $16.9 million last year, down a little more than $1 million versus 2016.
Former WPP CEO Martin Sorrell (he left in April of this year) took the biggest pay cut among the major holding company CEOs last year, when his total pay package was £13.9 million or about $18.5 million, more than a two-thirds drop from his previous year’s total of £48 (about $64 million).
Prior to last year, Sorrell had been Adland’s pay king for several years running, much to the consternation of UK investors who believed his package was too rich. A few years back, WPP stockholders voted against the company’s executive compensation package, though the vote was advisory only.
Publicis Groupe CEO Sadoun, who succeeded Maurice Levy in the CEO role last June, earned €1.31 million ($1.53 million) last year. He was the only CEO not to be the highest earner at the holding company he manages, again likely due to his mid-year appointment to the role.
Publicis Media's Steve King earned a €1.46 million ($1.67 million) and CFO Michel Etienne's earned €1.5 million ($1.76 million).