Are We in a Recession? Ask Madison Avenue …

In my opinion, strong marketers are usually good and capturing the general mood of the constituents they're attempting to reach. Given this, perhaps there's already at least some non-quantitative data points which suggest that we might already be in recession coming from the advertising world (considering that recessions are usually not referred to as such until after the fact -- of months or quarters into one -- this is perhaps the best barometer we have). According to the above-linked New York Times article, while the economists and politicians debate whether the American economy is in a recession ... Madison Avenue is already battening down the hatches." Perhaps you've already read about some of these data points on spend matters already, but I believe they're worth repeating:

"Quiznos is promoting a new line of sandwiches at $2 each."

"Nissan is pitching the fuel economy of its 2008 Altima sedan, rather than style or performance, with commercials devoted to its ability to go more than 600 miles between fill-ups."

"Ads from a new campaign for Club Med family resorts carry banner headlines declaring that 'Kids stay free.'"

"Starbucks is testing in Seattle-area stores 'short,' or small, coffees priced at $1 a cup -- and free refills."

"Sovereign Bank is wooing consumers to open checking accounts with up to $100 in 'gas reward cards.'"

That such a diverse group of companies would play the cost card as the lead theme in their advertising message certainly suggests to me that consumers are getting skittish about spending, to say the least. After all, in a recession, spend matters on the home-front more than ever.

- Jason Busch

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