Ultimately, everything starts with talent. In 2022 we must double down on efforts already under way to ensure we have a skilled, diverse workforce. Julian Douglas, IPA President and International CEO and Vice-Chairman of VCCP
The latest Campaign quarterly magazine is a bumper edition that combines The Annual, Campaign's review of 2021, and the Year Ahead, which looks at the industry's predictions for 2022. The cover of the 112-page magazine was inspired by Netflix's Squid Game and features some of the top advertising and media leaders who have written on the Year Ahead for their Winter 2021/22 issue; this included VCCP international CEO and vice chairman and IPA president Julian Douglas.
Campaign asked Douglas - known to many as ‘Dougie’ - to give his view on what the industry can anticipate for 2022. For him, an industry comeback is more than likely - but noted there are key ingredients that will ensure it happens.
In Dougie’s piece, he begins by addressing the question on everyone’s minds - will the advertising industry regain its stance after a difficult two years? He immediately expresses optimism for a comeback. “Will 2022 be the year of the fightback? Well, I think it has already begun. 2021 started badly but improved a lot. From the misery of the third national lockdown announced on 4 January, we picked ourselves up, pressed the reset button and got on with it.”
From Bond returning to cinemas to the ad industry descending upon Glasgow for COP26 and Ad Net Zero in October, to the latest Bellwether Report showing that marketing budget growth increasing to its strongest rate in more than four years, the industry making a strong comeback looks to be on the cards.
He lays out his objectives with a rallying call-to-action “Let's keep up the momentum by embracing this upswing; let's be bold and continue to invest in long-term brand-building, capitalise on the explosion of possibilities in tech and, most importantly of all, nurture and develop our people.”
Looking through the industry lens of his IPA Agenda, lOX Accelerate Opportunity, he notes how the industry has already been finding new purpose-driven ways of working that are reaping benefits. “Cross-industry collaboration reached an all-time high in 2021, showing a collective commitment to building back better and not simply slipping back to the ways of 2019. The IPA, ISBA and the Advertising Association laid the foundations for a better industry with the All In Census, as well as the crucial commitments of the hugely successful Ad Net Zero. Signed-up agencies to the IPA Media Climate Charter, one of the Ad Net Zero initiatives, accounts for more than £7bn in 2020 media billings, according to Nielsen. This represents almost 90% of billings from Campaign's top SO media agencies.”
The start of next year begins with RENEW 2022, a joint industry conference run by IPA and ISBA. Following on from the success of RESET 2021, RENEW is a great opportunity for the UK advertising landscape to power up efforts to ensure the UK ad industry succeeds, both domestically and on the world stage. Dougie is particularly enthusiastic that this will improve the agency selection process, which ensures continued best quality and value for clients while recognising and addressing mental health and reducing unnecessary wastage.
But success cannot be sustainable without commitment to ongoing learning, and having the certifying credentials to show for it so we can continue to be better. “With greater investment in advertising comes the ever important need to demonstrate the value and effectiveness of our advertising and our offering,” Dougie says. “The recent IPA EffWorks conference delivered myriad invaluable new pieces of research and development to accelerate this objective, and we have also seen 19 agencies awarded the landmark IPA Effectiveness Accreditation in recognition of their strong effectiveness cultures.”
He states that the IPA Excellence Diploma in Business also presents a highly valuable means to help the industry win in the rebound. “In the year ahead we can expect to see agencies and their clients reap the rewards of putting 10 times more people through the [diploma]. And we hope that more agencies will start their effectiveness journey now to ensure accreditation themselves in 2023.”
Yet for Dougie, the need for effective talent acquisition and retention remains crucial to success for both agencies and clients. “Ultimately, everything starts with talent. In 2022 we must double down on efforts already under way to ensure we have a skilled, diverse workforce.” He cites the 2021 IPA Agency Census results which showed the agency community numbers fell by over 10% due to Covid. With the next results coming out in late spring, he states that will provide an outline of how the business has fared after the lockdown of recent years and resulting shifts in our workforce.
Beyond the numbers, diversity and an inclusive culture of belonging remain the key to nurturing talent, on which point he reminds readers of the end-of-January deadline for the 2022 IPA iList - the biggest industry award celebrating and giving a platform to those diversity champions who are changing our industry for the better.
“If you are looking for anyone who can lead a fightback against all odds and win,” he finishes. “This is where you will find them.”
In addition, Dougie topped Campaign’s 2021 List of top 10 Ad Suits with praise for his affable character, impressive way with clients to the agenda for his IPA presidency which centres on the industry comeback following the pandemic:
An affable character with an impressive way with clients, he is one of many great suits at VCCP. Among the clients Douglas leads is Domino’s, which introduced a lighthearted yodelling brand platform that resonated with its audience this year. Rival leaders have been impressed with Douglas’ approach to his IPA presidency and enjoyed the conceptual debates he has introduced to council meetings. His agenda, which is striving to help the industry capitalise on the rebounding economy, was prescient, given the current boom in ad revenue.