First is a bad economy. Very few are immune to it.
The second is a new, unproven theory of marketing that is being accepted by a gullible and frightened marketing community. Here are some of the symptoms:
1. The primacy of "channel" over ideas. Too much advertising no longer starts with an idea. It now starts with a channel - "let's do social media", "let's do a viral video", "let's Twitter." I attended a conference in which an expert on digital marketing said the central hub of marketing is no longer the brand idea - it's the website. This is not a joke.
2. The greed of ad industry leaders. They are afraid to get up and say: "Wait a minute." They are afraid to defend the principles that made them rich and famous. They are afraid to call bullshit on the bullshit artists.
3. The smugness of digital zealots. Despite its enormous popularity, the web has proven to be a very elusive muse for marketers. It has spawned a few highly publicised successes and a torrent of expensive failures.
The devastating effect of a feeble economy has punished almost all businesses. Put it together with an uncertain, speculative philosophy of marketing and you've got yourself a highly intoxicating and dangerous cocktail.