When and Where Will the Recession Hit the Advertising World?

Last Updated Jan 29, 2008 5:52 PM EST

As the chance for a recession in the US slowly wobbles from possible to likely, the advertising world holds its breath,China Olympics knowing that when costs must be cut, companies traditionally shed marketing dollars first. While nearly everyone agrees that belts will be tightened, no one seems sure when it will happen.

This week's Economist argues that three big-spend events in 2008 -- the Summer Olympics, the U.S. Presidential elections, and the European Football Championships -- could delay real declines in advertising spending until 2009. The biggest shock of the article, however, is not the possibility that ad spending could remain steady or increase in 2008 â€" it's where the spending will come from:

Emerging markets now represent one-fifth of global expenditure on advertising, and are contributing ever greater sums. The price of ad-space has risen quickly in some emerging markets, such as Russia and China, and growth is slowing there. Even so, ZenithOptimedia expects developing countries will add $50 billion in new ad-spending in the next three years whereas developed markets will add only $38 billion--the first time that emerging markets have come out top over such a period.
Over at Ad Age, Avi Dan seems to agree with the Economist in a series of tips to Chief Marketing Officers worried about rocky times ahead:
OUTSOURCE YOUR CUSTOMERS: Don't manage marketing activity in a recession through the rearview mirror. This recession will defer [sic] from the last one in that it will be consumer-led, or retreated, rather than corporate-focused like previous ones. With Brazil, Russia, India and China growing at robust clip, CMOs should engage in marketing arbitrage and shift their focus offshore the way corporations performed financial arbitrage by shifting production offshore. China and India are growing faster, and their combined contribution to global GDP growth is greater than that of the United States for the first time. [emphasis mine]
While marketers focused on these emerging, non-US markets could weather the coming months relatively well, what should firms firmly planted in the US market do? We'll look at two options tomorrow.

(image of Adidas ad by myuibe, CC 2.0)