GUEST COLUMNIST;INDUSTRY WILL SURVIVE '96 VOTES

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How will the marketing communications industry around the world survive elections in 1996? Simply stated: Very well.

The industry has been through changes of compression and expansion, but it has survived wars, revolutions, dictators, earthquakes, tornadoes and cyclical changes of heads of government.

At last count, 1996 will have no less than 30 presidential elections in one form or another. We have no comment on the process or forecasts on the outcome. (Las Vegas wouldn't take odds on any of those either.)

Advertising/marketing communications is often regarded as the barometer of the economy. It adjusts-sometimes too quickly-to pressures and, most often, is the first to go during difficult times and the last to return as economies bottom out and begin to rebound. Through it all, the industry has shown such steady growth (survival) that it is an essential foundation block in all economies. That includes developing countries and those today identified as "social market economies."

Advertising is almost politics-proof but not economics-proof or recession-proof. Therefore, it follows that when newly elected heads of state or governments are determined to make sweeping economic changes, or impose restrictions on our profession as a demonstration of doing something for their electorates, those negative effects will have a temporary impact on the industry.

In order to survive government changes following elections, our industry must do everything within its power to make certain that elected and bureaucratic officials understand the value of advertising and its contributions to their economies.

Also, to continue the healthy growth of the business, we must articulate the contributions, the need for freedom of commercial speech and consumer choice and offer in exchange, self-regulation.

Norman Vale is director-general of the International Advertising Association, New York.

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