PERSPECTIVE: Fingers crossed for an end to recession by 2003 at the latest

Hello again. Campaign's first issue of the year is always a bit

weird. Almost a month since we published a news-based issue and, of

course, with this one we make our own news. This year that news is

slightly anti-climactic and will, I suspect, provoke little serious

disagreement. Campaign's Agency of the Year, Mother, gets the award for

the first time in its five-year history. It is a remarkable achievement

- all the more so when coupled with Mother's ITV Digital work winning

Campaign of the Year - but particularly given the strength of

competition from Bartle Bogle Hegarty.



The outstanding success of Starcom Motive, Media Agency of the Year,

reflects the overall trend for the better in the media buying community

as it is awarded for both brawn and brains. Starcom's performance on the

media awards scene and its new-business successes meant it all came

right in 2001.



COI Communications is a committed and professional Advertiser of the

Year, winning in a year in which we detected increasing signs that major

advertisers, not just in the running shoes, drinks and other hip

markets, are prepared to ignore the checklists and take risks. There was

Reebok's "belly" and "sofa", but there was also Super Noodles' "West

Side Story", John West's "bear", Skoda, Schweppes and McDonald's .



Three cheers too for Gorgeous, whose cool and witty reel wins it

Production Company of the Year and for Conde Nast's Glamour, which

defied the critics to hand a new tool to the UK publishing industry as a

whole - the A5 format.



There is no new-media agency this year given the woes of the sector as a

whole.



So, then, to 2002, which promises to be an interesting year for

beancounters, creatives and everyone in between. How quickly will ITV

recover, if at all? With media independents an increasingly rare and

valuable commodity, wither Aegis? Will the recession be U-shaped or

V-shaped or will the truth lie somewhere between the two scenarios with

a sharp fall followed by a modest recovery? Will BMP's excellent Lupo

commercial or BBH's arresting new Levi's spot prove the bigger awards

winner in 2002? Who'll be brave enough to invite Channel 5's Dawn Airey

to speak following her fearless performance at the WACL Christmas

bash?



At last count I've attended 768 such evenings and Airey is the only one

to give the great Jeremy Bullmore a run for his money.



Whatever, without resorting to the words "current climate", I predict

Campaign will be writing more about a global advertising slowdown than

recovery this year, leaving 2003 as the year of recovery. But,

remembering how quickly the economic environment - and accordingly

advertising - has turned over the past 18 months, I sincerely hope I am

consulting a faulty horoscope.



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