Opinion: Perspective - Bringing in the new - what has 2005 got in store?

As my opening columnal gambit of the year, tradition holds that the crystal ball should be polished and a vision of the coming 12 months set before you.

So, for convention's sake: grey (as in lovely Moira grey) will become the new black (see the impending law on age discrimination); creativity will become the new media strategy (with so much media clutter and fragmentation around, cut-through will rely on brilliant creative ideas); media owners will become the new strategists; and there'll be a little bit more money to go around.

Thankfully, for everyone whose belt is now so tight that they're wearing their Christmas over-indulgence as a necklace, recovery is apparently upon us. Sod the fact that the high street had its worst Christmas for a decade, or that successive interest-rate rises, extortionate petrol prices and an uncertain housing market are finally curbing consumer spending; it's time to talk the ad market up.

But are clients really ready to shed their conservatism, embrace the new opportunities and rediscover the benefits of surprising, exciting, cut-through advertising? The recession has straightjacketed bold clients. Risk-taking has become anathema, creative innovation has taken a back seat to the tried, tested and mind-numbingly dull - as any peak-time ad break shows.

It's crucial now that as clients slowly start to loosen their budget binds, they rediscover a respect, and thirst, for great advertising.

It once was so. Peter Mead has a story about one of his old Abbott Mead Vickers clients. The agency had been struggling to come up with a new campaign for this particular client, and both client and agency thought they had finally cracked the brief. The commercial was shot and Mead duly unveiled the finished work to the hungry client.

It was, both parties finally admitted, a bit of a stinker. The great Mead, of course, being the gentleman professional he is, was fully prepared to shoulder the not-insignificant financial burden of the mistake. But the client was having none of it: "This is as much my mistake as yours.

Let's share the cost." The story seems quaint now, but as recession recedes it's time for advertising to regain the respect of clients, for clients to start trusting their agency partners again and for real partnerships to be built.

It's always good to kick off the New Year with one of those news stories that you just know is going to get jaws hitting floors. Thanks to Lowe and Garry Lace, our first front page of 2005 carries just such a shocker.

Lace, of course, left Grey last year under something of a cloud (space and legalities prohibit me from rehearsing the whole story here again, but it's a good one). Anyway, despite the rather sorry end to his Grey career, Lace is held in high regard by those who know him well.

A big personality in an industry that seems to be losing its colour, a charming frontman and skilled client relationship-builder; the industry needs more people like Lace, as long as they don't start believing their own hype or putting their personal agenda way ahead of their clients, their agency and their colleagues.

The manner of Lace's departure from Grey made him damaged goods, though, and it was hard to imagine how he could make his return to the business without a serious period of rehabilitation. Now, after ten months out in the cold, he's back ... at an agency that has little to lose by taking a risk on him and vice versa.

There's still an awful lot of goodwill towards the ailing Lowe, and Matthew Bull, from whom Lace has taken the chief executive's mantle, has done much to get the agency on a more stable footing. Even so, Lace is being handed a fragile, precious, brand and there's a lot more at stake than his own reputation. Lowe is taking a gamble with its new chief and lots of fingers will be crossed. If nothing else, Lowe's next 12 months will be worth watching.