The World: Insider's View - Turkey

A number of factors driving change and growth in Turkey make what is an increasingly Westernised nation fertile ground for investment, David Blois writes.

Turkey is a market with great investment prospects. Unlike the marketing communications sector in Eastern Europe, which has had to build itself largely from scratch, it's a relatively established market, but one that still has massive potential.

It has a sizeable and growing population and, unlike much of Europe, a young one - 59 per cent are aged under 29, and this audience has a voracious appetite for better living and better-performing brands. Turkey demonstrates a high volume of consumption and economic stability, and is now attracting global investors, funds and brands.

Another aspect that makes it appealing to the global ad industry is that there are relatively few brands in Turkey. While international services and brands are growing their presence, there is room for many more. Moreover, there are some excellent and successful homegrown brands, which have the potential to move beyond their local market.

The Turkish advertising sector has grown constantly at more than 20 per cent over the past five years, and ad expenditure reached $2.6 billion in 2006. However, the biggest challenge for the industry is to increase adspend per capita. While most of the major global comms networks have long-standing interests in Turkey in the form of partnerships or affiliations, further investment in the country has not been a strong strategic priority for them.

Yet Turkey is showing itself to be an exciting market. There is a significant increase in investment from newer companies, which have spotted the country's potential. These include the AIM-listed Moscow-based IMSG, which acquired RPM-Radar and Zap Medya. Medyaturk was also acquired by Aegis in 2006.

Another factor driving change and growth in Turkey is the negotiations for accession to the European Union, which formally began in October 2006. Much was expected of Turkey, and it has always delivered. These past achievements and the progress made in EU negotiations so far show that Turkey may not be as different from the European mainstream as some maintain.

Turkey's economic performance seems to bear this out. Whether it enters the EU or not, by bringing its laws in line with those of the Union, Turkey is putting out a very strong "open for business" message.

Importantly, the country now has political and economic stability. Hyperinflation no longer exists; the legal infrastructure has also substantially changed and is more or less in line with that of the EU.

Moreover, in 2010, Istanbul will be the Cultural Capital of Europe. As well as preserving its authenticity, Turkey reflects European values. The Crystal Apple Awards, the country's creative advertising awards now in their 22nd year, have clearly secured the status of a European advertising festival.

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