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'Tis the season to be jolly, so ignore those Scrooges

It's nearly Christmas, so time for the traditional positive missive - but, in this instance, I genuinely think it's warranted.

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Having spent much of the past five years pretty much hunkered down, there are some unmistakable signs that the economic gloom surrounding the advertising industry has started to lift.

For many of the victims of the recessionary winds, of course, this is pretty cold comfort. But there is tangible evidence from all of the submissions for our various accolades in the Campaign Annual (out next week) that there has been much to be proud of in 2013.

It may not necessarily feel like that right now as we limp towards Christmas, exhausted and blighted by eye-twitch, many of us having never worked so hard.

But there do seem to be a few welcome rays of optimism that the darkest clouds have passed.

Certainly, all the myriad media-spend surveys and prediction pieces that analyse projected client intention mirror this but, anecdotally and on the ground, where it really matters, there’s a sense of an industry whose gait has gone from a pedestrian amble to a saunter (and, who knows, that eagerly anticipated advertising swagger that we hear so much about might be next).

This confidence was evident at last week’s A List party, where so many of the industry’s leading lights came together to celebrate their collective contribution to this vital sector of the British economy.

But every party needs a pooper and, in this case, there were two. One of those was GlaxoSmithKline, which became the latest advertiser to demand that agencies pay an upfront fee for the pleasure of providing their considerable intellectual and creative powers to help make its business a success.

Hopefully, like Premier Foods before it, GSK will realise the error of its ways. Or, even better, agencies will stand together and tell the company to do one.

Hopefully, GSK will realise the error of its ways. Or, even better, agencies will stand together and tell it to do one

The other Christmas Scrooge was the accountancy firm Kingston Smith W1, which fingered agencies for investing in staff at the expense of their profits in 2013. After years of what holding companies clinically describe as "pay restraint" (which, for the galley slaves, means either absolute salary freezes or relative salary declines), surely only the most mean-spirited and short-sighted chief financial officer would resent a slight loosening of the corporate belt to reward those on the front line who have been paying the price for the bankers’ greed and the incompetence of our political masters.

Equally, as Kingston Smith W1 also notes, much of this additional staff cost has been absorbed by agencies recruiting for and developing their offerings, which must augur well for UK advertising. So let’s hope 2014 is even more rewarding than this year.

jeremy.lee@haymarket.com
@jezzalee

This article was first published on campaignlive.co.uk

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