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Stack of Books

Cherries
oil on canvas
22 x 20 in
1981

Penny Machines
oil on canvas
23¾ x 29¾ in
1961

Stack of Books
oil on canvas
30 x 24 in
n.d.

Seven Suckers
oil on canvas
19 x 23 in
1970

Twin Jackpots
oil on canvas
30 x 46 in
1962

Ties
oil on canvas
20 x 26 in
1980

Cake Slices
oil on canvas
20 x 16 in
n.d.

Conclusion

2009 was an uncompromising year. As forecast last year, it was a game of two halves. We did not play particularly well in the first half, but picked up our rhythm in the second. We moved from staring into the abyss, to a less-worse performance. So far in 2010 we have seen a return of stability, but not growth as yet. The second quarter should see significant top-line growth for the first time for six quarters, but mainly because of easier comparatives. Overall, 2010 should be flat or up slightly. 2011 should see similar, but not spectacular improvement, as clients get further over the terrifying post-Lehman experience, which restricted 2009 budgets, and realise that long-term growth depends on top-line expansion, not cost cutting in their budgets for 2010, 2011 and beyond.

Governments are now faced with a dilemma, a choice between the pain of higher taxes combined with government cuts to reduce the deficit – or inflating our way out of trouble. We can make it easier in the long term by wearing the hair shirt now, slashing state spending and raising taxes, with the resulting loss of jobs. Or we can make it easier in the short term by stoking inflation, with long-term interest rates rising. It is worth pausing to consider this paradox: we are being asked to spend and lend our way out of this recession. That, surely, is what got us into crisis in the first place.

Whatever the conclusion, WPP’s strategy remains appropriate. New geographical markets, new media and consumer insights will become more important. Furthermore, globalisation, overcapacity and the shortage of human capital, the web, internal communications, concentrating distribution, corporate responsibility, the government as a client, and a balance between global and local organisational structures, will continue to drive branding and differentiation, and advertising and marketing services.

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