If Publicis Groupe’s financial results for 2021 are any indication, it looks like Adland has recovered rapidly from the pandemic with more growth to come in 2022.
The company issued its earnings for the fourth quarter and full year this morning, the first of the major ad holding groups to do so.
Company revenue was up 8% for the year to a record €10.5 billion ($11.9 billion) with organic growth (which excludes currency and M&A impact) of 10% versus 2020. Perhaps more importantly organic growth was 3% ahead of pre-pandemic 2019.
And the company gained momentum in the second half of the year. Fourth quarter organic growth was 9.3% versus Q4 2020 and 5% ahead of Q4 2019.
That momentum is expected to continue through 2022. The company currently estimates that organic growth for this year will be in the range of 4% to 5%. The guidance assumes no major pandemic-related business disruptions.
North America continued to turn in a strong performance. Full-year Organic growth was 7% versus 2019 and 9% for Q4 compared to the same period of that year.
The company also had a big year in the new business department. Agency consultant R3 Worldwide estimates that the firm racked up nearly 900 pieces of new business accounting for about $560 million in annualized revenue. Major wins included Stellantis, Walmart and Facebook parent Meta. 2022 got off to a good start with the addition of the consolidated McDonald’s national media business for North America.
While the numbers tell a positive story, company CEO Arthur Sadoun said his greatest accomplishment for the year was being able to give all Publicis Groupe employees a bonus for 2021 including a week’s extra pay for the 35,000 employees with no variable compensation (such as incentive bonus plans or stock options). The company released a video in which Sadoun announced the bonus to staff while thanking them for all their hard work during the stressful pandemic period.
The company credited its quicker-than-expected recovery in large part to the high-demand capabilities around first-party data management, digital media, commerce and business transformation.
Illustrating the point, the company cited the double-digit growth achieved by both data unit Epsilon and digital transformation division Publicis Sapient (which grew 12.8% and 13.8% respectively in 2021).
“We are emerging from the pandemic as a stronger company and a better one,” Sadoun said. Priorities for this year, he said, include further leveraging the firm’s assets in data and technology and delivering growth that “both profitable and responsible.” Also high on the priority list: nurturing employees and providing opportunities like the previously announced Work Your World program, which thousands of employees have already expressed interest in exploring.