Is it over yet? Please tell us it's over. For many out there, 2008 isn't a year we're drawing the curtain on. It has drawn the curtain on us -- kicking us in the teeth a few times.
Here, at the tail end of it, we've been told that we officially entered a recession at the end of 2007 -- which is sort of like being told by the fire marshal that, after intensive investigation, it's been determined that your house was officially burned down by a fire.
Hard times seemed to be the story of the year. Back in January we were already talking about downturns and the crush being put on consumers by the rising price of gas. Remember that -- when high gas prices seemed to be our biggest problem?
Those were practically the good old days -- before the financial sector completely imploded, Detroit ran itself off a cliff and media companies started shutting down titles and throwing employees out onto the cold winter streets.
It wasn't all horrible news. In spite of all the gloom and doom -- or maybe because of it -- Barack Obama became the first African-American president of the U.S., along the way reminding marketers about the power of brand building and teaching them a thing or two about using Web 2.0, social media and word of mouth. Whatever your political leanings, the election cycle offered plenty of lessons in what to do (and what not to do). Oh, yeah, it also made history and might possibly rebuild brand America.
In other areas, the holding companies are still with us; Google hasn't quite taken over the world (yet) and Web 2.0, despite claims made by its boosters (and yours truly), cannot cure cancer -- or even your marketing ailments. Broadcast TV has survived another year, despite the writers strike, a weak fall slate and continued predictions of its demise. Daily newspapers and print magazines still exist.
If it seems like I'm going a long way to find some upside, that's because I am. This past year was rough on everyone. The Book of Tens is usually meant to be a joyful look back, and I'm sure plenty of people out there might be in need of a laugh -- they just might not be in the mood for one.
Still, we've tried. And one of the best things about the media, marketing and advertising industries is our sense of humor -- even in tough times.
But even if you weren't among those who got tingly legs and fell into ecstatic quaking at the prospects of an Obama presidency, I think we can all agree on one thing: We hope 2009 brings some change.