Consultancies that have reinvented themselves as brand guardians or creators of “experiential” design are best positioned to exploit the reported drop in advertising spend, according to industry pundits.
Recent reports show that advertising spend is starting to drop off. A recent AC Nielsen survey showed spending decline among clients. The UK’s 30 top advertisers cut spend by 5 per cent in the 11 months to last November. The Institute of Practitioners in Advertising confirmed the slowdown earlier this month.
The IPA’s latest quarterly Bellwether report, suggests “a slight moderation in business confidence”. Judging from the early 1990s, falls in design spend are likely to follow those experienced by advertising.
“There are no windfalls to be had,” says Ian Cochrane, chairman of management consultancy Ticegroup.
Interior design would feel the pinch first, with packaging design and direct mail holding up for longer. “Last time, when ad spend went down, it was good for packaging design because clients spent more on making point-of-sales more effective,” says Richard Williams at Williams Murray Hamm. This time round, though, clients are more savvy, he says, meaning design will not necessarily benefit.
But clients must not neglect their brands, now regarded by many as their most valuable assets. “If a client cuts out brand work, he’s throwing away the keys to the organisation,” says The Identica Partnership chairman Michael Peters.