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Advertising Association Chief Executive Stephen Woodford looks at how the UK is the global hub for advertising and why global clients should look to the country for the best in industry know-how and creativity.
As we approach the world’s festival of creativity, Cannes Lions, it’s an opportune moment to reflect on why the UK continues to be one of the world’s leading hubs for advertising and marketing services. Firstly, it’s proven by our performance year-after-year in the Cannes Lions awards – the ‘Olympics of Advertising’.
Over the past 15 years, we have won more Lions than any other European country and more per capita than any other country in the world. But our heritage goes further back than that with era-defining creativity that has resonated around the world. Some of the biggest, most famous ads of all time have been created by British talent and that trend continues. In fact, one the most famous ads of all time – “1984” which introduced the Apple Macintosh personal computer for the first time – was directed by Sir Ridley Scott, the British film director.
Bringing things more up-to-date our industry has seen consistent growth in advertising spend within the UK economy during the last ten years and over the same period we have nearly tripled the value we export to countries world-wide. We do business with countries all over the world, from USA to China, from Australia to the UAE as well as across our fellow nations in Europe, leading with Germany, France, Netherlands, Italy and Spain. We continue to make creative work that travels around the world but also create new trends in advertising.
One of my favourite examples of this is proof of the power of advertising to change society. It is an absolutely brilliant example of a British commercial media owner leading from the front – Channel 4’s ‘We’re The Superhumans’ which was ground-breaking in the way it presented its broadcast of the 2016 Summer Paralympics in Rio de Janeiro. It deservedly won the Grand Prix for Film at Cannes Lions in 2017. I defy anyone to watch this ad and not be moved by its powerful storytelling – such a core part of UK advertising’s strengths.
In many ways, we owe it to the talent that works in the UK advertising industry. One of the things that has helped the UK become such a hotbed of creative work is the talent based here. We welcome ambitious creative talent to come and work in the UK during their career, just like we encourage our homegrown talent to go and work around the world to build their creative and strategic capabilities. As such, we are delighted to be a destination point for global talent – in a recent survey by Credos, our advertising industry’s thinktank, 80% of our businesses employ non-British nationals while, at the same time, we are also a top exporter of advertising expertise around the world.
All of this means we can provide international businesses with an unrivalled concentration of expertise, creativity and knowhow, to produce the world’s most effective advertising work.
UK advertising’s many strengths are being celebrated in a unique campaign at Cannes Lions in a partnership between the industry and UK government’s Department for International Trade. Our working group, whose members include the Advertising Association, Clear Channel UK, Channel 4, Framestore, London & Partners, M&C Saatchi and Newsworks, will be showcasing the very best of UK advertising’s presence under the banner of Creativity Is GREAT.The campaign includes two trade missions, the first run by London & Partners supporting 20 high growth London-based adtech and martech businesses and the second by the IPA who will be bringing a further 20 advertising agency SMEs.
It will celebrate the many ways that UK advertising is involved in the world’s biggest festival of creativity: including more than 80 speakers on stage during the week; a 25+ strong line of jurors selecting the world’s best creative work; a full team of Young Lions competing in the global competition; participants in the Roger Hatchuel Academy and the See It, Be It programme; plus backing for the many short-listed entries from companies across the UK advertising industry.
For the very latest details on the ‘Creativity Is GREAT’ campaign for UK advertising at Cannes Lions, visit the dedicated hub here.
PS: if you’re a fan of great advertising check out Nike’s ‘Nothing Beats A Londoner’.
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