UK Advertising and our industry’s role during the Covid-19 crisis
A message from Stephen Woodford, Chief Executive, Advertising Association
We’re clearly in a period of unprecedented disruption. Our first priority here at the Advertising Association is to serve our members at this critical time and to act as a conduit for information and insight about the state of our industry. We also have a need to prepare for when more normal times return, hopefully a few months’ on from now.
The rapid deterioration in business prospects we have seen is getting a very welcome and large-scale ‘whatever it takes’ response from Government. This week, we have been in regular contact with different Government departments including DCMS, the lead department for advertising and the creative industries, and BEIS which is concerned with wider business needs and priorities.
I had a conference call earlier this week with BEIS Secretary of State, Alok Sharma MP, who will be holding calls every few days to find out what is happening across the economy. The AA’s broad membership – across advertisers, media owners, agencies and tech companies – means we can combine perspectives to ensure we have the best picture of what is happening and help inform Government thinking on its response to the crisis. To that end, we are now working with members to provide a weekly survey for Government on how businesses are responding and coping with the situation.
We are also working with our members to learn all we can from past experiences in our market, such as the 2008/9 crisis, and promote viable strategies to minimise the impact. Research points to companies which hold steady in their advertising spend during a recession faring better afterwards than competitors who don’t. We will be making the case strongly that advertising spend should be sustained wherever possible as it is a proven engine of the economy. We will also be championing the great work that is already being done by brands as they respond to the Covid-19 crisis with brilliant creativity and fast actions. This is the time to show what the amazing strategic, creative and technological capabilities in our industry are capable of to support businesses as they adapt and do their best to support a collective effort UK-wide.
The global crisis means it is very important we redouble our efforts to ensure we are open to business with the rest of the world. The AA, IPA, DMA and APA launched the UK Advertising Export Group (UKAEG) this month and we published our second annual Export Report this week which you can see here. Advertising has continued to show strong growth of +15% in 2018 (vs. +2% for all UK services) The UKAEG is planning extensive year-round activity to promote UK exports and inward investment to support our industry and the many businesses that rely on sources of revenue from around the world.
With the move of Cannes Lions to late October, we are planning an even stronger programme with our Cannes partnership team – Channel 4, Clear Channel, Framestore, London & Partners, M&C Saatchi, Newsworks and PwC. We will be working hard, through our ongoing partnership with the Department for International Trade, to promote the UK’s position as the pre-eminent international hub for advertising.
We began the year with a new mission and a new three-year plan that puts responsibility at the heart of our strategy to rebuild trust and support growth. We will be doing all we can to keep up the momentum on this and, as such, our work on addressing Public Trust in advertising continues. We published our latest paper on ‘Improving the Public’s advertising experience’ aimed at advertisers at the ISBA conference last month and you can see get the full paper here. Media owner and media agency versions will be coming later in the year.
Looking at advertising’s responsibilities beyond this immediate crisis, we are actively developing plans for our industry’s action around the Climate Emergency and we are also progressing with plans to improve diversity and inclusion with a new online hub for our industry which will launch in a few weeks’ time.
We are fully aware this is a period of tremendous strain and pressure on our industry. Collectively we must do all we can to support the Government, both in its response to the coronavirus crisis, but also to be strong in our approach to help businesses do what they can through the economic and social recovery.