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What does 2017 have in store for agencies?

What does 2017 have in store for agencies?
Director General Paul Bainsfair on 2016 in adland, and what agencies should look out for in 2017.

In the wake of Brexit and Trump, not to mention the Italian referendum, and with General elections due in France, Germany and Holland, the only thing we can be certain of is uncertainty. These big political events are bound to have far-reaching effects on the business world. All of which makes it very difficult to plan ahead with any real confidence.

Advertising expenditure has a high correlation with growing economies. So far, post-Brexit, UK Plc. has done better than most commentators predicted. And the current forecasts continue to suggest that the UK will grow faster than Europe in 2017. That said, there are still concerns in many quarters that forecasters cannot truly factor in the effect of a hard or soft or even a red, white and blue Brexit (whatever that means) because there are too many unknown unknowns. Sir Charles Dunstone, founder of Carphone Warehouse put it more bleakly: ““The Pound has had its best 10 days against the Euro since Brexit”. “But what I feel about Brexit is that it’s a little bit like we’ve jumped off a 100-storey building and have just passed the 50th floor and we’re saying, ‘Actually this isn’t so absolutely terrible’ — but we haven’t hit the pavement yet.”

Turning to events in America, whatever one’s personal feelings might be about Donald Trump, a Trump Presidency could be good in Trade terms for the UK. Whereas Obama said after our referendum that we were at the back of the queue in terms of any Trade deal with the USA, Trump has said the opposite. It’s also true that if the much-discussed Brexit negotiations end badly and we revert to the WTO, the devalued British Pound will mean that British goods are better value to the rest of the world than when were part of the EU.

So it’s not all doom and gloom but as someone once said, it’s complicated. There’s no doubt that in the world of agencies everyone will proceed with caution.

However, we can be more certain about some things, as we look forward to 2017. Diversity is now firmly on the agenda in our industry and we can be proud that we are ahead of other professions in this area. Pretty much all agencies are now providing annual data on the makeup of their work force in terms of gender and BAME. While we still have some way to go on the proportion of BAME employees in our agencies, we are starting to attract a more diverse intake, which bodes well for the future.

Here at the IPA, 2017 has a particular importance. The IPA was established in 1917 in response to a call by the Government for advertising agencies to help with Public Information (and propaganda) during the Great War. In the 100 years that have followed, British advertising has developed into one of the most sophisticated and creative advertising markets in the world. The cornerstone of our Centenary celebrations will be an exhibition of 100 years of British advertising. More information about our Centenary will be announced in the New Year.

So, we look forward to what the New Year brings with a little bit of trepidation given the unusually turbulent state of the world. But as our Centenary exhibition will show, British advertising is world-class and I’m confident it will handle everything that might be thrown at it.

Last updated 13/12/2016

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