Advertising budgets: What’s the deal there?

April 30, 2008

scissors.jpgQuarter after quarter, analysts and the financial press keep pressing advertising executives about the economy and spending. For good reason, too, since corporations often take scissors to advertising budgets during downturns.

Thing is, the chief executives of the big ad holding companies so far have given very much the same answer during conference calls and interviews: everyone is worried, nobody is cutting spending.

Interpublic CEO Michael Roth is no exception. Here’s what he said on Wednesday about the economy/spending issue during his company’s earnings call:

“Of course, it goes without saying clients remain cautious due to broader economic concerns. To date we are not seeing signs of a pullback. But we continue to monitor the situation closely so as to be able to response quickly should the need arise.”

Here’s Publicis Groupe’s Maurice Levy:

“Not one single client has changed its plans. We continue to work with our clients according to plans.”

And Omnicom’s John Wren:

“Like most of our clients, we remain cautious about the economy, but to date, as I said, we have not seen any significant reduction in client spending.”

Havas’s Herve Philippe had this to say:

“Today we do not see any impact on our numbers from the international environment.”

So everyone seems to agree that nothing is happening — yet.

What’s that mean? It could be the industry is painting the brightest picture possible, which isn’t unheard of in advertising. Or it could mean companies aren’t yet feeling the full effects of the slowdown, and don’t need to take scissors to ad budgets. Or perhaps the thinking in the corporate world has shifted, and executives believe marketing is too important to cut. Or maybe the big cuts are just working their way through the system and will show up next quarter.

Give us your best guess. We’re interested.

(Photo: Reuters)

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