Whisper it but, at long last, there's optimism in the air
A view from Danny Rogers

Whisper it but, at long last, there's optimism in the air

As I write, a worrying outbreak of optimism appears to be afflicting the British marketing and media sector.

It’s difficult not to experience a lift in mood with a sustained period of beautiful weather and a series of British sports stars – from tennis, golf and rugby – reaching the pinnacle of international success after years of valiant failure.

But underpinning these ephemeral factors is a genuine upswing in economic and brand confidence.

For a few months now, economic indicators have nudged upwards. Corporate profitability is historically high as reflected in a febrile, but nevertheless bullish, equities market. The UK services sector is also more sanguine in outlook of late. However, the most encouraging indicator for our community is today’s Bellwether Report, which reveals the sharpest upswing in quarterly marketing budgets for nearly six years.

It is unwise to talk about the ‘end of the economic depression’, but history may yet record this quarter as a turning point

The second quarter of 2013 showed a net balance increase of 7.3 per cent, the largest since the third-quarter of 2007, which was on the eve of a major and long-lasting recession.

It is obviously unwise for any commentator to start talking about the "end of the economic depression", or predicting a new "feel-good era" for marketing and media, but history may yet record this quarter as a significant turning point.

Adidas and Robinsons were quick to turn around celebratory tactical work after Andy Murray’s triumph at Wimbledon. And one even wonders whether this newfound sunny disposition for Britain may affect longer-term strategies for brands. As Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO’s Ian Pearman said this week, maybe the "hair shirt" approach adopted by many brands of late could prove to be misguided in the second half of 2013. What is certain is that "the good times" won’t simply roll again. It was never that straightforward. The market is in constant flux. Behind the message of optimism are much more complex trends.

Bellwether shows that traditional media advertising is seeing a net balance increase of less than 2 per cent. Some TV insiders say revenues will be largely flat this year. But internet advertising is seeing a stunning upward revision (17.4 per cent), and presumably this is a catch-all phrase that includes social media activity and owned media investment by brands. So advertising and media professionals will need to respond carefully to the prevailing mood, continuing to invest in new skills and channels, and listening intently to complicated consumers and complex markets.

That said, let’s bask in the spirit of optimism for a while at least. It’s certainly long overdue.