It could be something in the Mediterranean sea breezes. Or perhaps the aura of elbowing egos at the Cannes Lions International Advertising Festival.

Or maybe it was just Gallic je ne sais quoi that prompted a flourish of crystal balls at adland's annual seaside outing. Most notably a forecast from ZenithOptimedia that predicts explosive future adspend growth in China, the globe's fastest expanding economy

In a presentation, The China Growth Phenomenon: Leveraging Media Change, ZO chief executive Steve King and Alex Abplanalp, executive president of Zenith Media China told delegates that the still-communist nation holds huge potential for advertisers.

Currently the globe's seventh-largest advertising market with adspend last year reaching $9 billion (€7.47bn; £4.95bn), China has undergone staggering growth with expenditure rising 256% during the eight years to 2004.

King expects this expansion to continue for the next several years at around 16% annually, with the capitalist comrades forging the world's second largest advertising market by 2015 - when adspend is predicted to exceed US$54bn. [Which, impressive though it might be, is dwarfed by the $141.1bn spent last year in the USA.]

Abplanalp, ZO's man in Shanghai, told delegates that of China's 1.2 billion population, 30% live in urban areas and 70% in rural - indicating between 350-400 million urban consumers.

Forty percent of adspend is currently accounted for by the pharmaceuticals and toiletries sectors, within which the majority of advertisers are local or Procter & Gamble brands.

The sustainability of the market, said Abplanalp, depends on a number of factors: the continued support of the Chinese government; maintaining GDP growth rates at 7-9%; and the social differences of the divided economy.

Data sourced from; additional content by WARC staff