UK advertising is adapting to grow

By Janet Hull, Director of Marketing Strategy, Insitute of Practitioners in Advertising

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 (Above: The IPA's Janet Hull on  the UK's evolving international advertising strategy. Image: IPA)


This speech was given at a Parliamentary reception hosted by the Advertising Association on November 20, 2018.

We know our stuff and we’re good at what we do. We’re among the best in the world for good reason.

We adapt to grow. We treat every setback as an opportunity.

There is no doubt that the uncertainty around Brexit is a setback for UK advertising. We have long been a gateway to Europe and the world’s leading global hub for advertising and marketing services.

Europe is our biggest export market, our biggest source of non-UK creative, media and digital talent, and countries in Europe like the Netherlands, France and Germany are our biggest competitors and want to eat our lunch.

But uncertainty around Brexit is also an opportunity for us to cast our eyes wider, explore geographies further afield, shout louder on the global stage.

We know that when times are tough the best strategy is to over promote and outspend the competition in order to reap the rewards when things pick up.

That’s why, under the auspices of the AA, and with the support of Campaign magazine globally, we’ve created Promote UK, a cross industry working group representing advertising agencies in the IPA membership, production and animation companies in the APA membership and research companies in the MRS memberships, and more.

We’re joining forces with the Department of International Trade (DIT) to develop a proactive outreach programme on behalf of our sector to 5 key markets:

-      USA

-      China

-      Japan

-      Middle East

-      India

We are now Trade Challenge Partners with DIT and we are supplementing the Government’s GREAT campaign messaging with our own Business 2 Business endeavours. We now have representation from the GREAT campaign on our Promote UK Working Group, and a dedicated DIT advertising sector specialist.

 We’re joining up the dots between parallel activities by Government and individual companies to amplify the total UK advertising sector presence.

We’re providing new speaking opportunities and showcases at:

-      SXSW

-      World Retail Forum

-      Consumer Electronics Show (CES)

-      Mobile World Congress

-      China International Advertising Festival

-      Advertising Week USA and Asia

We are also undertaking tailor-made UK trade missions outside of these defined areas.

Just 2 weeks ago, 20 advertising agency leaders joined an (AA/IPA/DIT) Promote UK advertising sector mission to the West Coast USA to meet with 25 companies who are setting the agenda for the future of advertising.

From Amazon to Spotify, Twitch to Lucas Films, Ultrahaptics to Experial, Vidmob to Ventana. 

We also attended 2 networking receptions with international investors and other tech businesses ably organised by the DIT west coast team. New business is already beginning to flow from this activity.

In March next year, 25 production company leaders are joining an AA/DIT Promote UK advertising sector mission to Japan to sell our creative credentials in e-sports ahead of the 2020 games.

These sorts of activities will have a positive impact on both our inward investment and export potential. Working together as an industry with Government to deliver A GREAT ADVERT FOR BRITAIN.

In our action plan for the Creative Industries Trade and Investment Board we are aiming for a 20 per cent increase in export value in 12 months.

According to the AA’s 2017 Brexit Survey, 46 per cent of businesses surveyed export overseas.

Our target is to increase this to at least 50 per cent in 12 months.  

Looking specifically at China, and my own organisation, the IPA.

Of the 300 agencies in IPA membership we have identified that 50 already have offices in Shanghai, China.

We aim to encourage growth in that number from 50 to 60 in the years to 2020 and to co-ordinate a UK/China partnership to increase the presence of British brands in China, and China brands in the UK.

Since 2009 the IPA has been providing speakers and delegations to the China International Advertising Festival.

Last year, together with the AA, myself and James Murphy AA President and Adam&Eve DDB chief took A GREAT ADVERT FROM BRITAIN to the inaugural Shanghai International Advertising Festival. And our investment and persistence are now paying back.