The maxi-quadrennial year of 2008 was good but challenged, particularly in the second half, by the global crisis. 2009, especially in the first half, will be a very tough year. The second half will probably look relatively better, as the unprecedented fiscal stimulus kicks in and 2010 may see a recovery of sorts.

The question remains, however, over the long term. Do we make it easier for future generations by taking the pain now by cutting spending, increasing taxes and unemployment and saving? Or do we take the easiest way out by inflating, with long-term interest rates rising? Ironically, we are being asked to spend and lend our way out of this recession when that is what got us into this trouble in the first place.

In either scenario, new geographical markets, new media and consumer insights will become more important. So WPP’s strategy remains appropriate. Furthermore, globalisation, overcapacity and the shortage of human capital, the web, internal communications, concentrating distribution, corporate responsibility, and a balance between global and local organisational structures will drive the importance of branding and differentiation, and advertising and marketing services to new heights.