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Chastened by a turbulent economy, advertising may be more conventional this year, say several top creative executives. Agencies will say goodbye to the creative and economic excesses of the past few years.

Some say the money crunch has begun. Mike Hughes, president and creative director of The Martin Agency in Richmond, Va., suspects, “A lot of agencies today aren’t doing anywhere near as well as they’re pretending to. They’re still living off last year’s dot-com new-business rush and profits bubble. But those clients and that money are gone now.

“Great creative work is always a conspiracy between agency management and agency creative departments. It will be interesting to see what happens now that management types are more nervous,” he adds.

How will creatives react? Most who responded to Adweek’s query say their work will be more targeted with smarter strategies. Some call for kinder comedy. Others worry the climate will complicate the perennial challenge of keeping good talent.

But most are enthusiastic about consumers’ use of interactive television and the challenge of tapping into the Internet’s potential. Citing past online successes, such as Nike’s “Whatever” and Buddy Lee’s Challenge campaigns, many are eager to coast on Internet buzz.

The big question comes from Brent Ladd and Steve Miller, group CDs at GSD&M: “Who’ll get William Shatner next?”