OPINION: Troubles ahead after a year of the unexpected

It was a year when some of the certainties broke down. The year of Cable & Wireless appointing Rapier Stead & Bowden; the small, local Rainey Kelly Campbell Roalfe winning the pan-European GM Astra launch, and Nationwide returning to Leagas Delaney. It was the year that major media business like the COI and Peugeot Citroen actually moved, Michaelides & Bednash thrived, and Christine Walker launched a company extolling the virtues of planning and hiring Phil Georgiadis.

It was a year when some of the certainties broke down. The year of

Cable & Wireless appointing Rapier Stead & Bowden; the small, local

Rainey Kelly Campbell Roalfe winning the pan-European GM Astra launch,

and Nationwide returning to Leagas Delaney. It was the year that major

media business like the COI and Peugeot Citroen actually moved,

Michaelides & Bednash thrived, and Christine Walker launched a company

extolling the virtues of planning and hiring Phil Georgiadis.



It was a bizarre year in which the TV channels’ sales and marketing

directors ended up working for their rivals. Perhaps most surprising,

Chris Evans beat Capital to Virgin and the French Government stood firm

over its alcohol ad ban despite the World Cup, while New Labour

capitulated to Formula One over tobacco.



If you are any good you should have done very well; it was a time for

launches: Channel 5,Traveller, MindShare, Godman; for acquisitions: TBWA

with Simons Palmer, Sir Tim Bell and Martin Sorrell with HHCL &

Partners.



Those that didn’t do well closed quickly or merged. Expect many more

next year.



Underlying it all is the continuing squeeze on agency margins and the

increasing insecurity of the ad industry. This year, adland scratched

the surface of passing on that client squeeze and was able to get away

with doing so only because adspend was up overall. But attempts at

curbing the costs of headhunters, production budgets and actors’ fees

are only a start.



When the slowdown begins, the industry will face savage cutbacks - yet

again - unless it takes brave, united action on the big issues.



Unpalatable truths stare us in the face: something must be done about

the over-inflated cost of TV airtime (will digital make a difference?);

the salary structures and working practices of many agencies are plain

barmy, particularly in the creative department. However, we’ll probably

be saying the same thing next December.



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