The Week Kick-off: WPP & News Corp growth hints at tentative post-pandemic bounceback

There were huge bouncebacks for WPP and News Corp last week, as the world begins to take tentative steps out of the pandemic and back towards normality. Meanwhile, it was less good news for Amazon, which was fined €746m (US $887 million) for failure to comply with European Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). All that and more as we kick off another week in the wonderful world of media… 

WPP bounces back

The proverbial ‘canary in the cage’ showed its first signs of returning to rude health last week, when WPP published its 2021 Interim results. Q2 revenues (less pass through costs) were up 19.3% on the previous year, while across the first half of the year overall the company said that revenues had returned to pre-pandemic levels. There was also a strong new business performance, with US $2.9 billion net new billings in H1.

“I’m delighted with our performance in the first six months of the year, at a time when Covid-19 continues to take a toll on many countries,” said Mark Read, Chief Executive Officer for the company in a statement. “The like-for-like revenue less pass-through costs growth rate of 19.3% in the second quarter is our highest on record, as clients reinvest in marketing, particularly in digital media, ecommerce and marketing technology. We have returned to 2019 levels in 2021, a year ahead of our plan, with good momentum into 2022.” 

As does News Corp

The media giant released its full results for the fiscal year 2021 last week. Revenues were US $9.36 billion, a 4% increase compared to $9.01 billion in the prior year, reflecting a 30% increase in the fourth quarter. There was a net income of $389 million compared to a net loss of $(1.55) billion in the prior year, which included non-cash impairment charges of $1.69 billion. Total Segment EBITDA was $1.27 billion compared to $1.01 billion in the prior year. 

Chief Executive Robert Thomson said: “Fiscal Year 2021 was the most profitable year since we created the new News Corp in 2013, with revenues rising 4 percent in the full year and surging by 30 percent in the Fourth Quarter. Profitability improved by 26 percent for the year, when we had a record number of digital subscriptions, record revenue and profits at Move and record traffic at, record profits at HarperCollins and the largest profit at Dow Jones since its acquisition in 2007.”

Amazon not so lucky

While more traditional media and advertising businesses could be seen to be taking tentative steps out of the Covid-19 downturn last week, the clampdown on media tech companies continued, with this time Amazon finding itself in trouble. The Luxembourg National Commission for Data Protection (Commission Nationale pour la Protection des Données – CNPD) fined the company €746m (US $887 million) for failure to comply with European Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).

The fine was actually handed out by the CNPD on 16th July, but was not made public until Amazon submitted its Q2 earnings report and subsequent documentation this week. The company, which has its European headquarters in Luxembourg, was not happy with then decision, telling CNBC: We strongly disagree with the CNPD’s ruling, and we intend to appeal.”  You can read about this and the rest of the media tech regulation stories currently hitting the headlines in the FIPP Tracker here

Elle kicks off annual training scheme

Elle UK is kicking off its annual mentoring scheme with the September 2021 issue, reiterating the brand’s commitment to opening the door to a more inclusive new generation of creative talent. Working with The Social Mobility Commission, the brand identified and actively recruited students from a combination of medium and cold spots (disadvantaged areas) from across the country, including Norwich, Blackburn, Solihull and Caerphilly and Inverness. Of the areas in England that Elle UK has drawn students from, Norwich and Blackburn are social mobility cold spots. 

As part of this campaign, students will also have access to a large diverse group of well-known mentors, from boxer Ramla Ali, to activist Munroe Bergdorf, supermodel Leomie Anderson and screenwriter and director, Emerald Fennell. All mentors will give students personal insights into different creative industries, lessons they have learned and how they succeed in their respective fields. Full article here

As for FIPP… 

We have partnered with MediaGrowth to bring the MediaGrowth Summit 2021, a conference that enables B2B media innovators to have long-term success in an increasingly complex world. The Summit takes place from 4-6 October 2021 at the Sheraton Chicago O’Hare Suites Hotel, US, and you can find out more about it here.  


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