Creative industries to grow slowly

Global advertising spend is forecast to grow by more than 3 per cent to $259bn (£145bn) this year, but leaders in creative industries continue to advise caution over the implications for the design sector.

According to a report by media agency ZenithOptimedia, the recovery will be dominated by the US, where ad spend is expected to reach $155bn (£87bn). In Europe’s five largest markets, it is predicted to rise to US$63bn (£35bn).

Sporting events such as the Olympics and Euro 2004, as well as the US presidential election, are identified as key drivers. However, uncertainty remains over whether these are part of a long term trend – or if the predicted growth in above-the-line spending will translate to an increase in design sector spending.

Willott Kingston Smith partner Amanda Merron concedes that the quadrennial factors of the election and summer sporting events may bolster ad spend in the US and Europe, but she is not convinced that they will have a massive impact in the UK.

‘I worry about marketing and design [industries] in particular thinking, “This is the year”,’ she says. ‘There will be limited improvement, but caution has not entirely left the business community.’

Merron adds that expectation that the UK will return to the robust economic form of the late 1990s this year is unrealistic.

‘There will be some boost, but we’re not going to get anywhere near where we were then, because that was anomalous in itself,’ she maintains.

The Brewery chairman and managing partner Paul Stead is equally prudent. ‘Any of these predictors of growth have to be heavily caveated,’ he says. ‘I don’t want to be a predictor of gloom, but we’re living in a very fragile post-[11 September 2001] world, where a single event could trigger very different behaviour.

‘But overall, the economic cycle is coming back from where it was three years ago; we can feel it. Clients are happier to spend money and invest in their brands,’ he says.

Stead adds that if the predictions of advertising growth pan out, the design industry can expect a ‘ripple effect’ in terms of packaging, repositioning and product development work.

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