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Richard Siddle, comment March 12

Published:  12 March, 2010

It is the time of the year many people in business dread. The appearance of the company accountant and the end of year budget review.

It may be too late to balance the books for this year, but if you are about to peer into your crystal ball and plan next year's targets then you might want to pay less attention to what the Chancellor has to say and follow the economic sermon according to one Sir Martin Sorrell.

As chief executive of the self proclaimed biggest advertising and marketing agency in the world, WPP, he knows a thing or two about how confident businesses really are and how much they are willing to invest in the fickle world of advertising.

Those of us in the media are often seen as a barometer of how any industry is doing. WPP's influence is so strong in the City and with government because it is involved in most major business sectors in all the key economies of the world. Too many he is Britain's Warren Buffett, the man economists turn to help them do their own bit of crystal ball gazing.

For months he has been noticeably shy about making any sort of firm economic prediction after what he terms as a "brutal" 2009. But this week he was changed tack and got the City all of a flutter by daring to "stick my neck out" and use the dreaded phrase "green shoots" when it comes to the UK economy.

He says the chief execs and marketing gurus he mixes with are finally ready to up advertising and media spends. But noticeably more money, he predicts, will be spent in the traditional, tried and trusted areas of newspapers and television versus new media and the internet.

With a raft of drinks advertising accounts under his company's control Sorrell's sagely advice could be positive reading for us all.

* On behalf of everyone here at Harpers Wine & Spirit can we pass on our best wishes to everyone involved in the Chilean wine sector following last week's earthquake. It has been heartening to see the UK trade rally around as a whole to help those affected in what has been a particularly difficult time. Viva Chile!