NEW YORK: Recession, what recession? WPP Group ceo Sir Martin Sorrell (pictured) played down fears of a 2008 contraction in the advertising industry when he spoke to this week's UBS Global Media & Communications Conference.

And even more reassuringly, for himself at least, if such a catastrophe did occur, WPP would be insulated from its worst effects.

The group's increasing marketing services revenues now account for 54% of sales and are less susceptible to downturns.

In addition, he said investment in emerging markets such as Asia Pacific, Latin America and Central Europe, has paid off handsomely and now brings in 23% of WPP's global revenue.

Sorrell asserted that 2008 would be boosted by the US presidential election and the Beijing Olympics, and that 2009 would prove to be the more challenging period, when a new president will have to deal with government spending, taxes and trade deficits.

He highlighted WPP's win of Dell Computer's business, which will generate $100 million (€68.08m; £48.62m) a year and will create a new full-service agency with 1,000 staff to work on all the client's marketing services projects.

Sorrell commented: "I think in the long term we are going to increasingly see these sort of things happen, that clients will say, 'We have different objectives ... we have different cultures and we want to build something for ourselves'."

And what of Sorrell's "frenemy" Google, which continues to dominate digital advertising? He said it was unrealistic not to perceive the online titan as a "threat."

Nonetheless, he forecast that WPP would up its spend with Google to $600m this year, from around $450m last year, and it was likely to increase further in 2008 to some $800m.

Data sourced from; additional content by WARC staff