Annual: Introduction

Back in October when we started all the debates that informed the compilation of this year's Annual, it seemed almost impossible that we would ever reach resolution.

Choosing the best agency, the best production company, the best medium and so on is a torturously rigorous task that necessarily involves hours of discussion, argument and careful consideration. To make firm decisions from the tangle of issues always seems so unlikely. Yet, this year, almost every decision was, finally, unanimous.

As always, you'll no doubt agree with some of our choices, and perhaps violently disagree with others. There are no right answers, only painstaking analysis of the arguments and informed judgments.

It certainly hasn't been an easy year to evaluate. Standout work was less in evidence - which, rather than simplifying the process, made the job of deciding more complex. And then it's also been a year shaped as much by what's to come as by what transpired over the previous months: anticipation of recession has meant an overdue reappraisal of the traditional models and a search for new revenue streams.

So, all in all, it seems like a very good time to be celebrating creative thinking that stretches what has traditionally been expected of our industry, and to champion new and different approaches. Yet, in true baby and bathwater style, it's also vital that adland isn't knee-jerked into dispensing with tried-and-tested approaches that may not tick the fashion boxes but that nevertheless touch consumers.

And if you're looking for certainties, for industry touchstones, from the pages that follow, good luck. Beyond creativity and effectiveness there is very little to light the path for 2009; it's going to be an interesting journey.

Happy Christmas.