Annual: Top 10 Recession deniers

campaignlive.co.uk, Friday, 12 December 2008 12:00AM

1. Bruce Haines buying Beattie McGuinness Bungay

As the belts tighten and acquisitions begin to move to the bottom of people's lists, Haines thought "bugger that". With a pocket full of Asian cash, the global chief operating officer of Cheil swooped in where Omnicom had faltered and snapped up Beattie McGuinness Bungay, an agency only three years old, and paid "a premium".

2. Christmas parties

TBWA has a secret pop star playing while BMB had Dusty Springfield (OK, so it was a tribute act) and strippers. But that is just poking the surface of this season's festivities. Some parties may have been booked well before the recession - but most are just the advertising industry showing that nothing stops them having a good Christmas, particularly when the year that follows looks sure to be a nightmare.

3. Chauffeurs

A chauffeur can sometimes be the first extravagance to get the chop when agencies are looking to cut costs, but not at Rainey Kelly Campbell Roalfe/Y&R. Carl, the trusty driver who squires the senior management team around in a gas-guzzling Land Rover, is still very much in use - so much so that he's famous in adland, with more than a few people recognising him sitting in his favourite parking space outside Roka.

4. Restaurants still full

In a time of recession, the phrase "belt tightening" is used pretty much continuously. But judging by the waiting lists at London's fanciest, and most expensive, restaurants, the only belts being tightened are the ones pushing against fat bellies. In early December, both Scott's and Cecconi's were booked up weeks in advance, and it was business as usual at adland's favoured hangout, The Ivy.

5. Already booking for Cannes

As anyone who has organised Cannes before knows, it's good to get in early, with agencies already snapping up rooms in the Carlton and the Majestic. OK, you might have thought, in this difficult time people will be scaling it back a bit (after all, who really needs the Hotel du Cap's sumptuous heated infinity pool?). Apparently not. Hotel rooms for the week are going like hot cakes already and parties are going to be just as lavish.

6. Flying CEOs

This one's from across the Pond, but it is worth a mention just for the outright cheek of it. Alan Mulally of Ford, Robert Nardelli of Chrysler and Richard Wagoner of GM actually flew in private jets to Washington to beg the US government for a $25 billion loan to bail out their cash-strapped companies.

7. HBOS party

God bless the News of the World for exposing this travesty of sinful excess. Just days after being bailed out by the Government, more than 300 bankers rocked up to a ridiculously lavish party that cost the bank £330,000 - with dinner costing £200 a head, hotel rooms coming in at £67,000, travel totalling £45,000, booze costing a staggering £10,000 and the biggest rip-off of all: £20,000 on Patrick Kielty.

8. The Times Magazine's Style and Design supplement

With complete contempt for any kind of financial downturn, The Times Magazine flagrantly flew in the face of the R-word by putting out its Style and Design supplement with the coverline: "The Luxury Index", complete with horrendously garish yellow-and-pink cover. Python-skin handbag, anyone?

9. Leaving without a job to go to

As most people feel like they're clinging on to their jobs for dear life, the likes of Robert Lerwill are clearly rich enough or principled enough to quit their huge-salaried jobs without anything else in the pipeline.

10. The opening of Bob Bob Ricard

Soho's latest swanky eatery is a lesson is recession denial and is run by ex-advertising people. Everything about the place is flash - from the marble tables and pink-and-blue outfits, to the Beef Wellington for four people and the Rhubarb Gin. However, the piece de resistance is the button on every table that, when pushed, notifies the waiter to bring the Champagne trolley to you.

This article was first published on campaignlive.co.uk

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