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Adspend slowdown presents marketing opportunity

Record budget deficits worldwide, combined with an expected rebound in global advertising spending, could create an unusual opening for advertisers next year.

Record budget deficits worldwide combined with an expected rebound in global advertising spending could create an unusual opening for advertisers next year, says a global marketing chief. Charlie Crowe, the chief executive of C Squared, told Omnicom Media Group's Media Innovations Forum in Abu Dhabi yesterday that advertisers could capitalise on cash-strapped governments' inability to deliver public services this year by delivering services themselves, winning goodwill for their brands in the process. "Next year we predict a little stability in global advertising, or growth of about 1 per cent, at the same time that most major economies are drawing down major deficits," said Mr Crowe, whose London-based company is behind Media and Marketing magazine and the Festival of Media advertising awards. "This means huge pressure on public expenditures - so there's an opportunity for advertisers and their projects to fill the gap." Some have begun to already. In July, Clorox recognised a strike by rubbish collectors in Toronto as an ideal chance to market their Glad brand rubbish bags. The company donated 25,000 bags to the city, bussed in volunteers to help with the pickup and passed out materials on how residents could manage their trash during the strike. "Their 'Glad To The Rescue' campaign seized an opportunity to create an enormous amount of goodwill for their brand," Mr Crowe said. The winner of this year's Festival of Media awards in Valencia for the service category was Philips in China, which tried to tackle the problem of long queues at Chinese hospitals by creating a branded text messaging system to tell patients when they were near the front of the line. The electronics maker based in the Netherlands also ran public service announcements encouraging people to use their local clinics rather than the larger, crowded hospitals. Although Philips's "sense and simplicity" campaign was essentially a business-to-business message, it was able to build its brand by filling in where public services fell short, Mr Crowe said. "What was particularly pertinent about that was the 65 per cent reduction in airtime costs because the TVC [TV commercial] was classified as a public service announcement," he said. Even before the recession, countries such as the US and Japan, which spent less on public services as a percentage of GDP compared with their European peers, were seeing increases in advertising that attempted to fill a public role. Between 2006 and 2008, Japan and the US taken together saw the service category of advertising jump from 5 to 16 per cent of total ad spending, according to Cream magazine's Innovation Exchange study. Last month, a US survey by Noral Group International, a public service ad firm, found that one in four television media directors expected the amount of airtime dedicated to public service announcements to increase, while eight out of 10 expected it to either increase or stay the same. Public service announcement "airtime availability is the one thing in this recession that is not going down", Eva Kasten, the president of Noral, said in announcing the results. "There isn't very much good news in a recession, but this is the exception." @Body-NoIndent: @Email:khagey@thenational.ae

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