Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Lean Times Seen on Madison Avenue / Advertising Outlook to Improve toward End of Year, Say Analysts

Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Lean Times Seen on Madison Avenue / Advertising Outlook to Improve toward End of Year, Say Analysts

Article excerpt

NEW YORK - Advertisers put their imagemaking on a diet in 1986, and analysts say the lean times on Madison Avenue could linger well into the coming year.

The advertising outlook should improve markedly toward the end of the year, these analysts say, and keep improving through 1988 as the presidential election and the Olympic games are expected to fuel a surge in ad spending.

``If we get into 1988 without a major recession, it should be a blockbuster year,'' said James Dougherty, who follows advertising for the investment firm County Securities USA.

Slow growth in national ad spending and an unprecedented burst of takeover and merger activity among advertising agencies prompted scores of layoffs in 1986.

Some analysts say ad agencies may be better off for the experience, however. They say it forced ad managers to pare fat from their operations.

Critics warn, however, that excessive concentration on the financial bottom line could stifle creativity and encourage development of safe but boring ads.

Even in a lean year, the admakers came up with some entertaining campaigns -ranging from the homespun efforts of the fictional Frank Bartles and Ed Jaymes to sell a wine cooler to Max Headroom's eclectic high-tech pitch for Coke.

Isuzu broke an advertising convention by using captions to say its slick ad pitchman was ``lying'' with his claims that their cars gets hundred of miles per gallon of gas and can be purchased for about $9 apiece.

Bill Cosby, who has long served as a spokesman for Jello, was prominent among a pack of celebrities who signed multimillion-dollar advertising contracts. The star of his own top-rated television show, Cosby signed a longterm deal with E.F. Hutton & Co., which was trying to recover from its check overdraft scandal.

Patriotism was big this past summer, abetted by the national celebration of the anniversary of the Statue of Liberty. Companies making everything from beer and hamburgers to clothes, film and cars embraced the spirit.

The fall political races inspired some unusually strident negative ad campaigns, however, and there were calls for campaign law reforms.

Overall ad spending rose 7.7 percent to $102.1 billion in 1986, according to estimates by industry analyst Robert Coen of the ad agency McCann-Erickson Inc.

That was well below the double-digit gains earlier in the 1980s. …

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