New-business drama will accompany ad forecasts

The year has got off to a suitably buoyant start if the gossip about impending account reviews is anything to go by. While every year seems to kick off optimistically with thunderous rumour and speculation about which clients will come into play, this year already seems more fevered than last. Positive forecasts of economic recovery in the advertising market are no doubt playing a part. The Advertising Association is predicting that UK adspend will rise by 4.2 per cent this year, buoyed particularly by a surge in spend online. Meanwhile Carat is forecasting UK growth of 4.6 per cent, with global advertising expenditure expected to rise by 4.9 per cent.

Agencies with strong online credentials can expect a boom new-business year. Growth in internet advertising is expected to approach 40 per cent in 2005, and this is likely to be accompanied by a new-business feeding frenzy, both creatively and for online media planning and buying.

Conversely, a number of staple high- street retailers are expected to cast a careful eye over their agency arrangements after some dismal trading performances, particularly over the crucial Christmas period. As usual, the answer to a poor financial performance is often a clear-out of key suppliers and agencies are likely to suffer and benefit in equal measure.

But perhaps the biggest trend in new business this year will be a continuation of the global holding company pitch phenomenon. With WPP now working for both Procter & Gamble and Unilever, conflict issues also seem to be easing, putting consolidation firmly on the agenda.