Thailand faces threat of first ad downturn in a decade

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BANGKOK -- Despite posting double-digit growth for almost a decade, Thailand's advertising industry may record its first period of negative growth this year.

The dampened economy and the government's push for consumers to tighten their belts has hit many companies hard, forcing them to cut costs - including advertising budgets.

"The growth of the advertising industry might not reach 6% - that's too optimistic," a source at J. Walter Thompson says. "Given such poor economic conditions, I'm afraid the growth could even be minus."

Rangsan Panpimanmas, associate media director at Prakit and FCB Public Co, also forecasts negative growth this year, adding that he is "not sure how hard the industry will be hammered.

"At the moment, there is no sign of political stability, and this makes it difficult to forecast the outcome for the last quarter," he says.

But Leo Burnett's Pornsiri Rojmeta, sub-regional managing director for Thailand and Indochina, is more optimistic. "The whole industry should grow by between 6% and 8% this year and Leo Burnett plans to grow along with it," she says.

Copyright September 1997, Crain Communications Inc.

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