Justin Cooke

Chairman of the British Interactive Media Association (BIMA)

Ben Somerset-How

Client Director



Tom Holmes talks to Justin Cooke, Chairman of the British Interactive Media Association (BIMA).

Justin became Chair of BIMA in 2009 which established him as one of the most senior and influential figures in the global digital industry.

A Manchester University drama graduate who majored in Computers and Theatre, Justin’s early career included creative roles with BBC Films, Universal Music and United News and Media.

In May 2012 Wired Magazine listed Justin in its Top 100 survey of Britain's top digital power-brokers and in June 2012 New Media Age ranked him the most influential person in UK digital.


Creativebrief: As Chair of BIMA what are your key responsibilities?

Justin Cooke: As the association for everyone working in the British digital industry my role is to ensure that BIMA continues to connect, reward, protect, promote and develop digital businesses and careers in Britain. Largely this takes the form of providing leadership to BIMA’s small but fantastic full-time team, ensuring that our powerful and connected Exec Committee is put to effective use, aligned and as representative of our industry as possible and acting as the face and voice of BIMA whenever it is required. All BIMA Exec roles are voluntary so like everyone these days I am wearing multiple hats at all times and squeezing every possible pixel and character from every minute of every day.

Creativebrief: Your career has spanned being an agency CEO to creative roles with BBC Films, Universal Music and United News and Media. What aspects do you feel have equipped you most for this leading industry role?

Justin Cooke: Every role I have had has played a part; Studying Drama at the University of Manchester taught me a great deal about story telling from the early days of Early English Theatre right through to Computers as Theatre. At the BBC I learned how to pitch ideas; Universal was all about learning how to get the best out of talented artists and at United I discovered the true meaning of the word deadline, how to print a magazine and the commercial reality of publishing. I think that working in the digital industry through a period of enormous disruption and change over the past 15 years combined with founding, raising venture capital, growing and selling my own agency has helped me learn to focus on what is really important and how to get things done as well as have some sense of the challenges and opportunities that we face ahead.

Creativebrief: The last 5 years has seen dramatic growth and change for the digital sector. What do you think the future offers?

Justin Cooke: I don’t think we have seen anything yet. I think it is safe to say that we have reached the end of the beginning. The next chapter of digital is going to be more far reaching. Much of what has happened to date has been about laying down infrastructure and the basic fundamentals of logistics, payment processes, universal, ubiquitous access and getting devices into people’s hands or the final mile to the home. Now we have this and we are mobile, social and physical things are going to change again which will necessitate a change in the way we work, what we create and how we charge and that’s what gets me out of bed in the morning!

Creativebrief: How does BIMA see its relationship with the other major trade organisations developing over the next 5 years?

Justin Cooke: We live in a connected, integrated world and trade organisations have to reflect this. To stay relevant and valuable we have to see ourselves as a partner of other bodies, quickly identifying and playing to each other’s strengths. We have worked hard to make BIMA as open, inclusive, accessible, agile and collaborative as possible and everything we do is better and stronger when we are working together. My personal view is that there are currently too many trade bodies. Over the next few years I’d like to see greater consolidation and alignment around the core issues that affect us all like skills, training and talent, standards, promotion and protection.

Creativebrief: How do you think the UK leads the marketing world in the use of digital technology?

Justin Cooke: We are the largest and most sophisticated consumers of digital technology in the world. I am not sure whether the fact that we lead the marketing world is cause or effect.

Creativebrief: How does BIMA engage government, both domestically and at international level?

Justin Cooke: In July 2012 BIMA joined the Advertising Association, the body of bodies for the advertising, marketing and communications sector in the UK. This has given our members a place and a voice at the top table when it comes to lobbying and educating both the British Government and the EU about standards, policies and issues that are critical to our industry. To drive up and maintain this engagement it is important that BIMA quantifies the value and impact that the digital sector has on Britain’s economy by providing evidence of the number of individuals employed and the value economic wealth, revenue and profit our companies and organisations contribute. On top of that our Government Working Group stays in regular contact with a number of key influencers across government.

Creativebrief: What are some of the key industry issues currently under review?

Justin Cooke: The Advertising Association is doing a great job reviewing policy and legislative issues around privacy and how we use and collect data which are both becoming more and more complex and important in our mobile, social and API-driven world. I think going forward as we move shift from communications towards making things another area that will have to be looked into will be Intellectual property and Patents. Two of the biggest projects we are undertaking right now are the development of a code of conduct written in collaboration with agencies, brands and publishers that all Members will sign up and secondly making a big investment in educating and equipping young people with fit for purpose skills and training.

Creativebrief: What are the main benefits of BIMA membership?

Justin Cooke: If you work in the British digital sector then BIMA is the association for you. Run by the industry, for the industry we provide an array of services from networking to training, protecting, promoting and inspiring that are solely designed to help you develop your businesses and career in digital.

Creativebrief: How is the BIMA developing its UK wide membership and services? Is this an area for future priority?

Justin Cooke: In January 2012 we set out an objective to broaden our reach and reflect the fact that the digital industry is thriving across the whole of Britain. Over the past 12 months we have successfully set up Regional Representatives in Scotland, the North-East, North-West, Midlands, Wales, South-East and South-West and are working hard to set up a similar scheme in Northern Ireland – if you can help please get in touch. To ensure that these initiatives are sustainable we have partnered with existing local groups as well as created formats that can be easily tailored and reused by representatives across the country with content, logistics, administrative support and funding coming from BIMA centrally. The result is a host of services and events running across the length and breadth of the country and we can only see this going from strength to strength.