Reminiscent of the epic thaumaturgical duels between Gandalf and Saruman, the seasonal joust between the adspend seers is again upon us!

On Monday the Wizards of ZenithOptimedia revealed their crystal balls to the UBS Warburg annual media conference in New York [WAMN: 09-Dec-02]. Later that day veteran Robert J Coen, the Magus of McCann, unveiled his numerological predictions.

The latter’s reverie is the rosier by far, predicting 2003 will see a rise of five percent in US adspend, soaring to $249.3 billion – beating even 2000’s alltime record of $247.5bn. Zenith, by comparison was positively downbeat, forecasting a miserly increase of 1.9% to $146.13bn.

Coen, director of forecasting at media network Universal McCann, believes America’s upcoming adspend bonanza will have a beneficial knock-on effect planetwide, powering a global increase of 4.9% to $470bn (Zenith’s guess: +2.9%).

“The [dotcom bubble] correction seems to be about over,” Coen opined. “The economic climate will look pretty good. Not a boom, but better than 2002, which was positive.”

His rationale for such optimism is that major advertisers are increasing their spend and launching new products, reversing the trend that sparked the ad recession. As a result, he suggests that US advertisers’ aggregated current year expenditure will climb 2.6% to $237.4 billion (Zenith: +1.3% to $143.5bn).

Unlike some of their advertising counterparts, the number-crunchers on Wall Street were not impressed by Coen’s euphoria. Following the conference, New York Stock Exchange composite trading saw shares in Interpublic Group [for which Coen works] fall almost 7%, to $13.46; while Omnicom Group lost $2.68 to $65.22.

Data sourced from: The Wall Street Journal Online; additional content by WARC staff