At The United Nations Of Advertising


Matt Bourn 600px

AA's Bourn sees new opportunities to showcase UK creativity, post-Brexit. (Image credit: AA) 


By Matt Bourn, Director of Communications, Advertising Association

What does our advertising industry have in common with our peers in other territories around the world? Plenty, and then some.

That’s the verdict from a recent two-day meeting in London, held by Ascential, the organisers of Cannes Lions. Representatives flew in from countries, including China, USA, Turkey, Pakistan and Japan, to share challenges and opportunities ahead as we all prepare for 2019. It was particularly important for us at the Advertising Association as we are the UK representative for Cannes Lions for the first time.

As things stand, Cannes Lions will be the first big international platform for our industry after our departure from the EU, so it will be a hugely significant event. We are hugely conscious of the UK government’s desire to position the UK creative industries as positively as possible on the world stage post-Brexit.

Brexit has signalled a change coming and so our position is under scrutiny like never before. In the spirit of friendly but serious competitiveness, the crown of European centre of excellence for advertising will be chased by countries including the Netherlands, Republic of Ireland, Germany and France. In recent years, the UK has risen to number one through a combination of talent – homegrown and international – plus a geography that possesses a unique cross-section of technological expertise and creative excellence. We want it to stay that way and have the backing of the Department of International Trade in our endeavours.

At the event, we heard from Phil Thomas, Chairman of Cannes Lions, who set out a hugely compelling argument for the importance of creativity to business performance in Ascential’s Creativity Matters presentation. After a year of change for Cannes Lions, it was clear the focus for 2019 is promoting the festival as the world’s biggest celebration of creativity’s value to businesses.

A stellar line-up of UK judges will be at the heart of this by selecting the world’s best creative work for recognition and award. In recent years, we have won more Lions per capita than any other country and we will be encouraging as many UK businesses as possible to enter Cannes Lions to retain that crown next summer.

Many representatives put tremendous work into the Young Lions, using it as a vehicle to develop the next generation of creative talent from their industry. The work, by Rene Jex in the Czech Republic, over the past ten years was exemplary. We will be drawing lessons from this as we find the very best of UK creative talent to compete on the ground during Cannes Lions against their global peers. The Young Lions competition is set to grow in profile as we approach 2020, with the Ascential team setting out ambitious goals for a truly global competition and a profile to match.

Also apparent was how unique the Roger Hatchuel Academy is to immerse talent from a diverse background into everything advertising can offer for ambitious, creative people. We will be creating an opportunity for hundreds of young people from the UK to experience this first-hand early next year in the search for our own Roger Hatchuel Academy attendee.

There is no doubt creativity is a much sought-after commodity for advertisers – it is the proven differentiator in advertising and marketing effectiveness. Next summer, over ninety countries will be in Cannes to showcase their own creative prowess by presenting their best work, talent and services to the world’s advertising buyers. All at a time when the UK’s role with the rest of the world is shifting.

We will be there, working with our partners, the Department of International Trade, Channel 4, Clear Channel, Framestore and M&C Saatchi to showcase the best UK advertising has to offer. If you would like to join us in representing the strength and breadth of our creativity to the world, please get in touch with Matt Bourn or Suzanne Costello on our team.