There were too many deaths in 2012. This column is not really the place to discuss politics or bigotry and the other ills of society but I heard a few moments ago on the radio that the poor India girl who was raped on a bus in New Delhi, and was sent to Singapore for medical treatment, died. A week or two back we were shocked to hear of 20 young boys and girls getting shot in their school in the USA. Violent weather conditions have killed people in the Philippines, Japan and in the USA. The world economy is also not in good shape so I think we can admit that 2012 has not been a good year.

But sometimes extremes force everyone to make changes and shift attitudes. We can see public pressure in the USA to modify the ridiculously free way that guns are sold. The Indians went on the streets to push the police and politicians to take action to protect women. Global warming is now being taken more seriously. And the economists are waking up to the fact that if bankers and CEOs take obscene amounts of cash in terms of salaries and bonuses while the average working man barely earns enough to keep a roof over his head and feed a family, with no spare cash to buy anything else, the capitalist system breaks down.

While we cannot compare the tragedies mentioned above to difficulties experienced in the advertising industry, admen and marketers have faced seismic changes in recent years. The developments in technology, the growth of new media, a world-wide tightening in the economy and shifts in consumer behaviour caused us to staggered for a bit and most are still working out how best to work for our clients in the new era.

However, having worked for many years with this group who must be the most flexible and imaginative professionals in any commercial sector, I am optimistic as we go into 2013. The award shows are already full of examples of how admen and advertisers have got to grips with the new world.

I was saddened to receive last week the final print edition of Newsweek magazine. This serves as a reminder that cuts in advertising expenditure affects more than the advertising and media agencies. Media owners, film production houses, photographers and many others have felt the cold winds of change sweep through their businesses.

Yet, like the Phoenix from Greek mythology, many magazines have been reborn. I guess AdAsia is one of them. The publishers, on the whole, have been amazingly adaptive and are discovering how the digital world can expand their scope. I wish the new digital edition Newsweek every success.

In the advertising world, new agencies have sprung up as clients have demanded more flexibility and prowess in the digital world and social media in particular. Despite the slowdown, we saw the birth of at least half a dozen ad agencies in Singapore in 2012.

I have been delighted to see Navtej (Naffi) Singh’s name appearing in the Singapore press recently as his company, Tagit, expands. We worked together when he was a copywriter but he became a pioneer in the mobile field and his foresight has now paid off. There are many new business which have sprung up in recent because of the changes in communications. There are successful firms working in areas of which we could have never dreamed 10 years ago. No doubt, 2013 will see more start-ups. We need to look ahead and not back as the year closes.

May I wish all AdAsia subscribers a happy, healthy and prosperous year ahead.