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Adland in 2013

"Advertising has the opportunity and the skills to kick start a recovery" says Paul Bainsfair, Director General, IPA

The Chancellor’s Autumn Statement made for gloomy reading. The economy, it seems, is going nowhere. Given that advertising has always been regarded as the bellwether for predicting economic trends, received wisdom suggests there won’t be too much fun to be had amongst the advertising denizens of Soho and Shoreditch in 2013.

All this may be true but it’s not the mood I am encountering amongst the more confident members of the advertising agency world. They believe that there are real opportunities to help their clients in these straitened times. Those Brand owners who have been ruthlessly cutting costs over the last 3 or 4 years now need to look elsewhere to improve their profitability.

If there is no growth in consumer markets then Brands need to gain market share. To do this they need ideas and insights. Agencies are at their best when they use their creative thinking to create commercial success. As Rory Sutherland* says, we use “human understanding to gain business advantage”.

Many of the UK’s biggest businesses are sitting on lots of cash. I believe that in 2013 we will see some notable examples of companies being persuaded by their advertising agencies to invest some of this cash to stimulate greater sales and share. It may even be that the seeds of an overall economic recovery could start here. For than can be no doubt that advertising stimulates trade and drives competition.

To support my cautious optimism there are already some signs that agencies have begun to resist the general economic malaise. The recent Kingston Smith survey into agency profitability showed that despite no real growth in the economy at large, agencies have increased their resource pool and slightly improved their margins.

Advertising is oxygen to the economy. What’s more it is actually the fuel that drives Digital Britain. While overall media spend in 2013 may well be flat, digital or Internet based advertising will continue to grow. It will be in these more agile, responsive and social channels that many advertisers will be looking to try and capitalize on consumer interest and passion.

Looking at how things might change in the advertising world next year, one of the big themes is about the talent coming into the industry. IPA member agencies are increasing their graduate intake again next year. The range of skills we need is growing to include, digital search, UX, coding, design and build, social, real time planning, buying and monitoring. On another positive note there are new roles for school leavers, who are digital natives, and strong in social media and coding. We expect the numbers of new interns and apprentices through the IPA Creative Pioneers Challenge to more than double in 2013, and to increase its footprint into other UK cities.

So to sum up, the overall advertising market might be flat next year but there are opportunities for people and agencies to make their mark. 2013 will also see the complexion of the industry continue to change as young people with new skills invade the agency scene. There will be plenty of great insights and as is always the case with the UK’s creative strength, some brilliant ideas will be there for the bravest clients.


This article first appeared on The Information Daily

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