Editorial: Do they know it's Christmas time at all?

While the rest of the marketing and media trade press have already begun their extended Christmas break, the Marketing team has been hard at work, producing the final issue of 2004 that you hold in your hands. It seems that the decision to publish when everyone else was taking a break has been the right one. The last few working days of the year have seen an extraordinary number of news stories break. Not coincidentally, many are of the 'negative' variety. It is the sort of tactic that used to lose you your job if you were a spin doctor in a government department, but attempting to find a good day to bury bad news has become commonplace business practice.

Not so many Christmases ago, this would have been a good time to release news you wanted nobody to read. The idea that the entire industry disappears from mid-December to mid-January to the slopes of Val d'Isere or the beaches of the Seychelles is rooted in marketing folklore.

But now, those who do take off for foreign shores on an extended winter break had better wonder what they might be leaving behind. In their absence, millions of pounds of business could be moving.

Ribena is reviewing out of Grey London; Air Miles is reviewing, also out of Grey; and TBWA\London has resigned the Sharwood's account to placate Masterfoods. Alongside these reviews, there are several pitches from across the marketing services sector that are ongoing or reaching their culmination over the next two weeks.

While Marketing has no desire to ruin Christmas for those affected by these decisions, the reality is that it will be a particularly busy 'holiday' period for many on both sides of the client-agency fence.

Is it right that so much is being asked of agencies at this time of year? Can clients expect the best ideas from incumbent or prospective agencies? Well, yes and yes. The idea that the business of marketing should come to a grinding halt twice a year - at Christmas and for the whole of August - is one of the last remaining vestiges of our industry's profligacy. Some may not like it, but none should be surprised that such outdated concepts are being swept aside by the realities of doing business in the UK. It is surely only our geographical proximity to Europe, as opposed to our commercial kinship to the US, that has allowed it to last as long as it has.

It should be taken as a positive indication for 2005 that so many significant business decisions are being made so late in the calendar year.

Marketing wishes all its readers a prosperous 2005; to those involved in the current rash of pitches, we raise a cheer and offer the reminder that, whatever the time of year, it is better to be busy than quiet.

After a short break, Marketing will be back with the 5 January 2005 issue.

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