Saturday, May 3, 2008

08 vs. 01? Not as bad this time or just not yet?

It's a truism in the industry that advertising is an early indicator of the economy, and that advertising/marketing budgets are the first to go when the economy shrinks or shrivels, accompanied by lay-offs and consolidations.

But judging by totally anecdotal evidence, the bad news doesn't seem to be hitting quite as hard this time around, at least compared to the last round at the turn of the century. Or at least not yet. Recruiters seem as busy as ever, looking for the ever-elusive web-guru's. And industry insiders are still talking expansion rather than contraction. And I haven't heard about packs of mid-level account managers prowling the streets midtown, willing to work for iced lattes.

Of course, it's always hard to judge because ad agencies generally hype everything as a matter of course. Just look at the inflated new biz win records in the latest adweek report cards. Is it statistically possible for so many agencies to be batting over .500? And for all the obvious reasons, they try to keep layoffs quiet, but the news tends to get around. I did hear a rumor that a couple well-known digital shops were laying people off, which doesn't match the conventional wisdom, but we all know that digital types have a history of overreaching.

But in general, the good news seems to be that the new media engine seems to be keeping us busy, even as mortgages turn upside down and demand slows. Every client we talk to isn't sure what to do and is willing to pay someone to help them figure out. Another reason to love your DVR.

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