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WPP Group chief executive Sir Martin Sorrell is talking about a ‘bath-shaped’ economic recovery again. Do you think the tub is half empty or half-full and why?

‘The economic situation has probably bottomed and hopefully the design industry has cut its cloth to match – both in headcount and delivering real commercial value for money to clients. However, recovery depends on confidence and the international climate is not helpful. So while the bath may be half full with the plug firmly in place, I don’t think anyone’s feeling brave enough to turn the tap on yet.’

Bob Willott, Editor, Marketing Services Financial Intelligence, and special professor at University of Nottingham Business School

‘With the water this choppy it’s hard to tell if the bath’s half full or half empty. In being distracted by the big picture, which none of us can predict, there is a danger of losing sight of factors within our control. For those consultancies that can maintain focus and build on their real strengths, there will always be enough opportunities around.’

Jeremy Sice, Managing director, SAS

‘Unquestionably the tub is half-full. As long as there is poor quality design in the world, there are major opportunities. Offensive design abounds, and great strategists and designers always find ways of making clients part with money. Times are tougher, but UK groups just need to look further afield, and continue to produce astonishing work.

Paul Foulkes-Arellano, Managing director, Wren & Rowe

‘In the US the tub certainly feels half full, but then again when you compare it to the feeling of someone taking the plug out 20 months ago, no wonder. The great thing is that instead of refilling the bath with the same old diluted concoction, the more wary, smarter thinking teams are learning from the experience and filling their baths accordingly. [But] you never know if Glenn Close is submerged below the surface.’

Will Travis, President, Attik US

‘Yes, the outlook is pretty crap for the next 12 months, but you can’t have a half-empty attitude to running a business in any climate. Human beings depend on hope and optimism, so let’s hope that the other side of the bath is a vertical lift. There’s still a lot of pent-up demand for brand services; it’s a matter of unlocking it in any way you can at the moment.’

Rita Clifton, Chairman, Interbrand

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