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Scottish ad industry needs single Government body to take ownership to assist growth asserts ad chief

Brian Coane, Chairman of advertising agency trade association the IPA for Scotland, has stated if the Scottish advertising industry is to be more effectively promoted at home and abroad it will require a single Government body in Scotland to take the lead. It is needed, he argues, to coordinate public sector support and communicate key messages at a political level. His comments form part of the advertising industry’s response to the Scottish Affairs Committee inquiry into the Creative Industries in Scotland.


While acknowledging there is interest in the industry from various public sector bodies including Scottish Enterprise, Scottish Development International, Creative Scotland and Skills Development Scotland, as well as the broader Government in Scotland and the UK, Coane believes because of a lack of single ownership, it has resulted in only ad-hoc and reactive support. This is a situation he believes should be remedied to fuel industry growth.

Says Brian Coane, Chairman, IPA for Scotland and Partner, The Leith Agency: “Advertising is a fundamental part of the economic and social fabric of Scotland. Not only does it create jobs and help businesses grow, it helps communicate important messages to the community and is vital in achieving the social and economic goals of the Government. The Government should be looking to champion the advertising industry in Scotland as a major success. It should do everything it can to support it and help it grow, enabling not just creativity to flourish in Scotland, but businesses across all sectors. To make this happen we need a single voice that brings clarity and clear leadership.”

In addition to his comments on how the Scottish advertising industry is promoted, Coane also states UK Government has a vital role to play in creating an environment which encourages growth, particularly in terms of helping it to:

Become more internationally competitive

To compete with London, Coane believes Government must help to position Scotland as a ‘creative centre’. This would draw on its heritage of innovation, significant profile in music and the arts, such as the Edinburgh Festivals, as well as its leading position within the computer games industry, and the number of Scots who thrive in the creative arena internationally.

To achieve this, Coane says, would require top-level political support for the industry from Ministers and MPs when communicating with businesses, as well as active promotion of the Scottish creative industries on the world stage, including major festivals such as Cannes Lions or South by South West Interactive.

Build a better talent pool

The industry faces challenges in sourcing talent from schools and universities as well as in attracting and retaining established creative talent from outside Scotland, explains Coane. At the entry level, too few graduates are industry-ready, resulting in significant investment of time and money in training them to function effectively within the context of the advertising industry.

The industry also supports a pool of freelance creative talent that is typically exceptionally mobile and, without strong demand for their services from the agency sector, it is likely much of that talent would leave Scotland.

To address this two-pronged issue, Coane proposes a number of solutions, including:

  • Policy initiatives on immigration and promotion of Scotland, internationally, as a creative centre of excellence to attract and retain world-class talent.
  • Creation of an advertising education centre of excellence along similar lines to the games industry centre at the University of Abertay, Dundee.
  • Better links between education and the creative industries to facilitate more appropriate skills development and to encourage talent from a broader spectrum of disciplines.
Last updated 10/09/2015

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