Forecasters see mild ad growth next year; helped by Olympics, congressional elections

Monday, December 3rd 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

NEW YORK (AP) _ Two leading forecasters on Monday predicted a mild rebound in advertising spending for 2002, saying the Winter Olympics and congressional elections should help pull the industry out of a slump.

The growth would not be enough to bring spending back to the boom levels of 2000, ``but it will start the gradual crawl back,'' said one of the forecasters, Robert Coen of Universal McCann.

Coen expects a 2.4 percent increase in all U.S. advertising spending next year, a small but measurable rebound from the 4.1 percent contraction that is expected to occur this year. He released his forecast at a media industry conference held by investment bank UBS Warburg.

The 2001 shrinkage would be the first yearly pullback in U.S. advertising spending since 1991, according to Coen's calculations, and well off the 9.6 percent growth seen in 2000, when dot-com spending and the economic boom were in full swing.

Coen said he expected the U.S. economy to start moving back upward in the first quarter of next year as a series of interest rate cuts by the Federal Reserve and other government economic stimulus measures take hold.

That should put advertising on track to recover soon thereafter, Coen said. ``Advertising usually lags behind the economy, and people are still cutting now because of decisions made six months ago. The Olympics will start to turn things around.''

The Salt Lake City Games will take place Feb. 8-24.

Overseas advertising markets, which have also been hurt this year, are expected to have a mild turnaround as well, according to a separate forecast by Zenith Optimedia, which was also released at the UBS Warburg conference.

After an anticipated decline of 3.4 percent this year, Zenith Optimedia now expects global advertising to edge up 0.8 percent in 2002 and 3.6 percent in 2003 as the global economy recovers.

``We think we've now hit the bottom of this particular cycle,'' John Perriss, chief executive of the London-based advertising company, said in his presentation. ``We can look forward to better times, but at the back end of 2002 going into 2003.''