This is the week in which all our fears and a barrage of media speculation have crystallised into a new reality. We’re no longer talking about an age of austerity, we’re in it. And we’ll be in it for at least the next Parliamentary term and probably longer.
In a sense it now no longer matters whether you believed there was a case for a more considered timetable of cuts and savings, or whether you shared the belief of the 35 business leaders that signed the letter to the Daily Telegraph on Monday saying that an £83bn short sharp shock is the right way to deal with our national deficit.
I’m no economist; I’ve found myself torn between the two approaches. Spreading cuts over years can save jobs through better planning but there is also sense in the theory that the best way to deal with such a debt is to handle it quickly and feel the pain.
However, even if you were a staunch supporter of the quick and bitter pill administered on Wednesday, you’ll be harbouring a deep sense of unease. The cuts announced this week mean the world is about to become a very unforgiving place. Consumer spending will inevitably tighten, as will the media budgets of short-sighted companies and for those two reasons alone, the job of the marketer will get harder. The challenge for us marketers is to prove our worth all over again. We have to show we are comfortable with the emerging technologies that allow more tailored marketing, that we are on top of our customers’ needs and that we can do more with less.
“Consumer spending will inevitably tighten, as will the media budgets of short-sighted companies and for those two reasons alone, the job of the marketer will get harder”
Andrew Harrison paints a very interesting scenario in his column. Looking ahead to November and the internal decision at the Cabinet Office over what to do with COI, he describes a situation where there is no more Government spending on communications. Catastrophic results such as a sharp increase in obesity or the number of smokers or a drop in military recruitment, he says, could turn out to be the best future case study we ever have to demonstrate the effectiveness and need for great advertising and marketing.
One thing is for sure. Our creativity and effectiveness is about to come under great scrutiny, and with that, our value to business growth. Whether the age of austerity is remembered as an age of great marketing will come down to how we react in the months and years to come.
Mark Choueke, editor