This week VCCP’s International CEO and Vice-Chairman, Julian Douglas was interviewed on Sky News Ian King Live about the UK advertising industry's place on the global stage, how investing in digital skills will help the UK maintain its position, and why our industry's top priority must always be talent.
Having landed an annual export of advertising services reaching £15bn in exports in 2021, up 32.5 per cent year on year (according to the Advertising Association), the advertising industry is now one of the UK's strongest exports and a critical driver of economic growth. This is partly due to the UK advertising industry procuring clients worldwide.
For Dougie, this can be attributed to the UK advertising industry staying ahead of the curve when it comes to technology, and its rich history of creativity as a nation. “We are the most advanced country for digital marketing on the planet. So international companies all around the world want to buy the best. And the UK really is the best, our creative industries have always been fantastic, whether that’s music, fashion or architecture, advertising is a real crown jewel amongst those industries.”
Yet although the UK is enjoying advertising exports, particularly to the US and Australia, Dougie emphasised how importing from other countries needed to be a symbiotic relationship, that the UK will always have more to learn from other countries.
"It's really important that we do have those imports from abroad to make sure we’re learning from other nations and other developments in tech so that we’re at the leading edge. We need to work with new areas, whether that be India or the West Coast in the US."
When asked about Brexit and how it may be impacting the industry, Dougie explained how we are still seeing significant trade and exports going out to Germany especially and Ireland, so that continues to be the case. Yet in order to stay ahead, he emphasised how the UK needs to continue investing in talent, from abroad as well as locally. “The main concern is talent. The reason the UK does so well is education, training and talent. It’s about the people and we’ve got great people across the country, but we also have the best people in the world coming to work in our country, so there could be some challenges in accessing that talent from across Europe."
The UK joining the CPTPP (Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership) Trade Agreement is also likely to show benefits, and Dougie is hopeful about how this will support both advertising and other industries. “Removing barriers for trade is only good for business. The true scale of the opportunities remains to be seen. But we’re hopeful.”
King also asked Dougie about online advertising, and how it appears to be reverting to more traditional advertising channels like TV and display. Dougie described it as a ‘dynamic space with lots of change as new technology and media channels become available.’ There’s ongoing debate on streaming platforms, but he continued that it’s about much more; through sponsorship deals and placements.”
Should the industry be concerned about consumer spending being under pressure, if brands are reevaluating their marketing spend? Dougie doesn’t think so. “There is always a pressure on marketing budgets. But any companies that want to grow, advertising and marketing are absolutely key to drive that growth. The more accuracy we have in understanding the effectiveness of advertising, the more investment we can put there.”
VCCP’s own work with Cadbury has demonstrated effectiveness, winning both the IPA Effectiveness Grand Prix award as well as their Garage campaign (which aired in both the UK and the US) landing the top spot on Kantar’s most effective campaigns in 2022; the hero film was briefly shown during the interview.