Nabs reports renewed ad industry optimism

Optimism is rising among staffers at Britain's beleaguered agencies, half of whom believe that the recession is coming to an end, according to research published this week.

But the economic downturn has exacted a heavy toll with the majority of staff working more than 40 hours a week and suffering from high levels of stress in an effort to reach demanding performance targets.

The findings emerge from the latest survey by Nabs, the industry charity, which has just completed its latest annual monitoring of how people working in the communications industry think and feel.

The survey suggests that the harsh economic climate has not dampened enthusiasm for the business, with 70 per cent of those questioned saying they wouldn't want to work anywhere else.

Also, half of them believe that the worst of the recession is over and say they are optimistic about the prospects for the coming year.

However, the survey reflects what has been a sombre year for the industry with 34 per cent saying that their salaries have been frozen and 32 per cent having seen colleagues made redundant.

Almost 60 per cent cite a "fear of failure" which has been sparked by the recession for what they believe has been a decline in the overall standard of creative output.

As a result, there's a growing industry-wide respect for agencies that have shown themselves prepared to take creative risks. Asked to name their most admired agency, 33 per cent chose Mother, 24 per cent Bartle Bogle Hegarty and 21 per cent Clemmow Hornby Inge.

Mother and CHI are also marked down as future agency stars along with Grey London, currently being revamped and reorganised by its chief executive, Garry Lace.

Kate Harris, the Nabs chief executive, said: "A lot of staff have concluded that recessions are cyclical and things are bound to get better. What's more, the industry retains such a creative reputation that people are still banging down the door to get in."

She claimed agency employees regarded long hours as a necessary price to be paid for having a job, but warned that stress was becoming more prevalent at all levels because of holding company pressures to hit targets.

- Leader, p18.

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