Tis the season for cautious optimism

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The turbulence and questions of late 2010 will continue to haunt us into the new year. Plenty of problems hang over us without the closure one instinctively craves at the end of a calendar year.

The cuts: Necessary pain in an era of austerity or the slashing of vital services without enough scrutiny? The coalition government: A new style of government straddling a range of perspectives or just politicians abandoning long-held convictions for the sake of a place at the table?

Student protests: Legitimate or mindless riots? WikiLeaks: “Free speech” doing its job or irresponsible hackers causing havoc with intrusive cyber attacks?

Add to all this the presence of controversial strikes, more of which are planned for next year, and further imminent snowfall that will no doubt bring the country to a halt again. There hasn’t been much joy around just recently.

“There hasn’t been much joy around just recently. But there’s always some sense of optimism and renewal going into a fresh calendar year”

But there’s always some sense of optimism and renewal going into a fresh calendar year. We spoke to 30 top marketing directors, CMOs and chief executives for our Year Ahead cover feature, to be published on 6 January. As they discussed with Marketing Week their plans for everything from how to split their budgets in 2011 to what the new consumer trends are going to be, one view resonated fairly strongly. Nobody really knows what’s going to happen. Few of them could state definitively, for example, whether they expected a double-dip recession. One marketer from a famous brand suggested that 2011 is “the most difficult year to predict” for as long as she could remember.

But what also materialised among the mixed views was a sense of calm. Some marketers talked of being “only at the start” of a shift towards content, some described their excitement at the chance to work with emerging technologies and others talked about their customers. What customers continue to want, according to our expert panel, is a sense of fairness, something to trust and believe in and something they really value, that they aren’t prepared to sacrifice.

Our marketers felt that while they might be working in what currently seems like an atmosphere of crisis, it has been that way for two years now. And they feel they have the strategies in place to handle it. So as the world seems like it might be about to come apart at the seams, you should know that if you’re feeling relatively calm and secure about 2011, you aren’t alone. Have a wonderful Christmas. See you next year.

Mark Choueke, editor

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