Media Ink

Wartime ad scenarios: Madison Avenue develops military contingency plans

Joe Mandese
Media Markets Daily

They say war is hell, but it is not necessarily a nether world for the advertising business. At the time of going to press, with a US-led war with Iraq appearing imminent, some of Madison Avenue's leading media minds were being called upon to act more like military strategists than industry economists.

'We are pretty good at forecasting ad spending, but predicting the outcome of wars is not one of our core competencies,' bemoaned Rich Hamilton, chief executive of Zenith Optimedia for the Americas, after receiving queries from the financial and trade press on the implications of a new war with Iraq.

Hamilton was not alone. Most top media shops were being asked and some were offering contingency plans for the impact of a war on the still precarious recovery in ad spending. The consensus: a war is not likely to help, but neither will it necessarily derail the recovery.