NEW YORK: Ladeez and Gennelmun, welcome to the World Adspend Forecasting Championship bout between heavyweight contenders, ZenithOptimedia's Steve (KO) King and Ragin' Bull Bob Coen of Universal McCann.

Roaring out of his corner for round one at the UBS 35th Annual Global Media & Communications Conference in New York, King's supporters were on their feet as their man landed a flurry of optimistic forecasts both for 2007 and 2008-10.

Undeterred by his opponent's remorseless Panglossian punching, Coen's confidence in his numeric footwork lured King onto the ropes where Coen countered with a flurry of pessimistic prognostications.

Then, dropping his guard, Coen backpedalled on his earlier projection for 2007 US adspend growth, downing this from his estimate of 4.8% in December 2006 to a dire 0.7%.

King, on the other hand, manfully stuck to his prophesy of 2.5% US growth this year.

After the bout Coen played to the crowd: "In recent years national advertisers have maintained very tight reins on their advertising budgets," he said.

"The desire for growing corporate profits has intensified and marketers have fiercely opposed above-average media price increases. Many marketers insist on an immediate return on ad investments before approving additional advertising spending."

"The relative importance of advertising," Coen continued, "has slid again with advertising as a percentage of GDP dropping from 2.14% in 2006 to 2.05% in 2007."

And although he was not exactly euphoric about prospects for 2008, some observers claim they detected a minor upward tremor at the corners of Coen's lips.

"We expect US advertising to experience improved growth [of around 3.7%] in 2008 mainly because of the unique events that will fuel extra spending," he conceded, "but [this] will not continue into 2009."

The judges and referee will not declare the result of the bout for several months.

Data sourced from; additional content by WARC staff