Creative Depression

If you're fortunate enough to have a job during this economic downturn, or if you've watched TV during it, you may have observed one of the laws of advertising economics: When the economy heads south, so does the creative.

It happens with every depression. The budgets get tighter, brand managers get nervous, executives and bean counters get more involved in the day-to-day creative product (never a good thing) and everyone demands really hard-hitting (i.e. straightforward) advertising. You see TV spots with CEOs talking to camera. You see brands jumping through hoops to deliver a "value message," (e.g. our paper towels cost a little more, but they last longer). And because clients become overly fearful of missteps, they rely more heavily on focus groups and testing to cover their butts (also never a good thing).

Yes, there are some clients who are brave enough to still put out good work, who see the competitor's timidity as an opportunity. But for the most part, expect smaller budgets and smaller risks.