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New IPA President Rory Sutherland delivers inaugural speech

Rory Sutherland, Vice-Chairman, OgilvyGroup UK, delivered his inaugural address as President of the IPA to an audience of senior adfolk at the annual Members’ Lunch yesterday (22nd April 2009).


Sutherland pledges IPA will do more R&D into communication and promote the primacy of ideas

Rory Sutherland, Vice-Chairman, OgilvyGroup UK, delivered his inaugural address as President of the IPA to an audience of senior adfolk at the annual Members’ Lunch yesterday (22nd April 2009).

Under the general theme of the ‘primacy of ideas’ Sutherland set out to remind adland of the value and distinctiveness of what it does: “What distinguishes us is an approach to imaginative problem solving which starts with people and works backwards from there… The world could do with a lot more of this approach to its problems.” He said.

In his 15-minute address he pledged that in his two- year tenure he would:
- seek to unite the business by creating a cross-disciplinary group of IPA members to explore how agencies can work together as complementary rather than competing companies, to grow the value of advertising and how it is rewarded;
- champion emotional intelligence;
- engage in more R&D on consumer psychology and behavioural economics by partnering with the Royal Society of Arts on its ‘Social Brain’ project and in doing so have more of an understanding of how advertising works.

“It terrifies me that almost nobody under the age of 35 in a media agency has any experience of working with creative people and vice versa; hence fewer and fewer people understand ... the whole equation of business” he says, arguing it must be better for clients if agencies operate as complementary rather than competing organisations.

He is also critical of business for its obsession with overly left brain thinking:

“The current crisis provides us with a spectacular opportunity for a united agency body to make the case for more human-insight-led ideas… when it is acknowledged that emotional intelligence may once again have a role to play in business… when there is a refreshing acknowledgement that customers and employees can no longer be treated … as “one-dimensional beings”.

“It seems to me this is what we should stand for as an industry. We should campaign for the idea that the most effective way for any organisation to achieve its ends is often through better human understanding: better understanding of what people value; of how they make decisions, and of where and when and how their behaviour and attitudes can change.”

In making this point he says agencies need to be better at developing and charging for ideas with no media spend attached:

“There’s a particularly vital reason I am keen to emphasise the value of what we do independent of the media spend. And that’s because of falling media costs. If the stockmarket continues to link our fortunes as agencies with the fortunes of the media, we have an enormous problem. We should be keen to delink how we make money from how media make money.”

Sutherland is also strident in his support for advertising as a potential force for good:

“We should never underestimate the value our thinking can bring to wider society. Indeed part of the answer to the world’s environmental problems may lie in our hands: making people more happy with less stuff, is one of the fundamental challenges of the next 20 years … and one we are rather well placed to help solve.”

To view his full speech, please click here.

Rory Sutherland succeeds Moray MacLennan, Chief Executive, M&C Saatchi Worldwide as President of the IPA. He will be expected to serve a two-year term although he will be formally re-elected at the IPA AGM on the 21st April 2010.

He is the first creative director to be elected as President of the IPA. He is also the first President from a direct marketing agency.

Former IPA Presidents:
2007-2009  Moray MacLennan
2005-2007 David Pattison
2003-2005 Stephen Woodford
2001-2003 Bruce Haines
1999-2001 Rupert Howell


Last updated 23/04/2009

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