'The worst is behind us,' says CEO of WPP, the world's largest advertising company

Key Points
  • Mark Read, the CEO of WPP, the world's largest advertising company by revenue, says 'the worst is behind us' in terms of advertising budget cuts.
  • The Covid-19 pandemic has caused companies in almost all industries to slash advertising budgets in 2020.
  • The pandemic has caused 'decades of innovation packed into about four months,' Read said. 
  • WPP will rethink travel spend post-pandemic after saving significant money this year, Read said. 
Mark Read, CEO of WPP Group, the largest global advertising and public relations agency, poses for a portrait at their offices in London, Britain, July 17, 2019.
Toby Melville | Reuters

A View from the Top is a Q&A series exclusively available on CNBC Pro. Alex Sherman will regularly speak with a business leader about decision-making, investing and industry news.

The advertising industry has taken a major hit in 2020 as companies in nearly all industries have cut back on marketing budgets. Globally, media owners' advertising revenue will decrease this year by $42 billion, or 7.2 percent, to $540 billion, "as advertising spending shrinks due to the severe economic recession triggered by the COVID19 pandemic," according to a June report from Magna, the research arm of Interpublic Group.

But "the worst is behind us," according to Mark Read, CEO of WPP, the world's largest advertising company by revenue. He's seeing the evidence of recovery not just with WPP's campaigns but also in the messaging of the advertising itself, which is now largely focused on getting back to business rather than promoting messages of safety.

Still, the pandemic has opened Read's eyes when it comes to saving money on unnecessary travel and the value of shorter remote meetings. He explains how quarantines have accelerated "decades of innovation packed into about four months" and says WPP's role in navigating new technologies makes the company more essential than ever before to clients.

Here's the full Q&A:

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