Economic slump in Thailand hits agencies

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BANGKOK -- With most clients cutting their advertising budgets in the face of a sharp economic slump, Ogilvy and Mather (Thailand) Co says it is struggling hard to keep billings at the same level as last year.

"Once we were always thinking of recruiting more staff," says Managing Director Sunandha Tulayadhan. "Now such thoughts have vanished. We need to find ways to raise efficiency and quality as much as possible." Sunandha says staff members are willing to change position or work harder to ensure the company's success, however.

The company is also putting more focus on market research with the establishment of a special unit. "We must be closer to the consumer and clients to find out their mood in this situation," Sunandha says. "Consumer behavior is changing very fast."

Although O&M's billing grew by 6% in the first half of the year, the second half is expected to be tougher. "Everyone is adjusting to major change," Sunandha says. "In the third quarter, advertising is likely to drop. If everything settles down later this year, clients may start planning their spending again. The best target for this year would be to get billings at the same level as last year."

Sunandha says the firm's billings reached 4 billion baht in 1996 - $160m at last year's exchange rate but $130m since the July flotation and de facto devaluation of the currency.

Copyright August 1997, Crain Communications Inc.

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