Editorial: Creativity won't lose its value, even in recession

Such is adland's jittery state in the face of an impending credit crunch that it's hard to know what might worry it more - the latest Bellwether Report suggesting adspends are on the slide, or the decision of Anthea Turner and Grant Bovey to cancel their summer charity ball.

After all, do Bovey and Turner know something the rest of us don't? Probably not. But amid all the uncertainty, there's always a temptation to look for the most unlikely straws in the wind. However, if the industry can set aside its paranoia, what rational judgments can it make about the effects of possible economic downturn?

In the short term, clients will trim their adspends. They always do when economic gloom threatens and they always will. But such cutbacks always turn out to be cyclical.

Of more concern is how much each recession erodes agencies' collective bargaining power with clients. Every time the economy nosedives, client-procurement specialists demand more bangs for their bucks.

Those demands look set to become ever more relentless, putting jobs at risk and further jeopardising agencies' ability to service accounts effectively.

It's not that clients won't continue spending. But they'll probably only do so if they can be convinced that measured responses to their advertising are accurate.

That's likely to favour digital agencies over traditional shops, for whom a credible digital offering has never been more important. The truth is that a lot of what mainstream agencies do is of declining importance to large advertisers.

The constant within this shifting communication landscape is creativity. The thought processes that produced the great TV campaigns of the 70s will be just as sought-after in years to come. Not least by the financial services sector, traditionally a big spender on direct marketing.

As consumers face a sharp reality check after 20 years of easy credit and booming property prices, so the ad industry will have to brace itself. Not for a very different kind of recession, but some variations on a familiar theme.

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