Editorial: Don't start selling apples yet

Judie Lannon

Anyone who visits the offices of Leo Burnett anywhere in the world will find a bowl of apples somewhere in reception. They are part of the founding story of the now extremely successful advertising agency. More to the point, the agency was successful in the decades since its founding in the middle of the Great Depression. People scorned Burnett's efforts, saying this was no time to start a business and that he should be selling apples on street corners.

Could the pre-2008 growth period be a blip? The Leo Burnett story (and many others) should be kept in mind in light of this issue's cover story by J Walker Smith and Andrew Curry. They forecast that the challenging factors bearing down on the economy will affect performance for some years. As the authors point out, pessimism is a feature of recession. Nevertheless, the seven 'headwinds' they identify – ageing, debt, inequality, energy prices, the digital economy and the problems of scale – present a daunting picture. But all problems present opportunities and the authors end on a more optimistic note, pointing to a range of areas where growth is more likely to be found.