BITE Focus

The long and the short of it is shareholders will be focused on revenue

Shareholders are going to be focused on how firms can deliver against revenue and there will be greater scrutiny on marketing spend with significant implications for the industry.

Nicola Kemp

Editorial Director

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“Shareholders will want to understand the results of the pandemic on businesses. What does the two, three-year revenue plan look like?”

Speaking at #RESET2021 this morning, organised by the Advertising Association, the IPA and ISBA, Peter Duffy, the President of ISBA and Chief Executive of Moneysupermarket, said the balance between short-term and long term goals in marketing “isn’t the issue”.

He noted that shareholders are going to want to understand which are the businesses that are going to perform tomorrow, and which are the legacy businesses retrenching in the face of the pandemic.

Duffy noted that for client and agency contracts, education and measurement will be the core focus areas moving forward. He explained that client agency contracts need to better understand the direct linkage between success for both parties and not just focus on the client getting the cheapest deal.

Speaking on a panel alongside fellow industry presidents Nigel Vaz, President of the IPA and Global CEO of Publicis Sapient and Keith Weed CBE, President of the Advertising Association, Duffy noted that advertising spend that has been paused because of COVID could well be placed under greater scrutiny.

Weed reminded the audience that decline has not been as bad as people think. While the advertising industry declined by 7.9% in the UK in 2020, it has an estimated growth of 15% this year. Weed believes that as the pandemic stretched its way around the world, “the advertising industry is very much the canary in the mine. We get hit first.” For Weed, he said that “what the industry needs to focus on is the role of growth, how advertising can stimulate growth and come back stronger.”

While Duffy pointed to the fact that we find ourselves at “a moment when the industry is needed more than ever.”

We need to move beyond unconscious bias and unintended consequences towards conscious inclusion to help make our industry more reflective of the people we serve.

Nigel Vaz

Driving the inclusion agenda

The wide-ranging panel also discussed how to make meaningful progress on the inclusion agenda, with the IPA’s Vaz noting: "We need to move beyond unconscious bias and unintended consequences towards conscious inclusion to help make our industry more reflective of the people we serve."

However, Jake Dubbins, the Managing Director of Media Bounty and Co-Chair of the Conscious Advertising Network, called out the “elephant in the room” of the discussion on Twitter. Namely that the three CEO’s and three Presidents of the IPA, ISBA and the Advertising Association are all men. He suggested having joint Presidents to bring equality to the fore.

The panel discussed the importance of adopting more inclusive hiring practices. The Advertising Associations’ Weed noted that many of advertising’s greats used to begin their career in the mail room, while today the industry has become “locked in a graduate recruitment approach”. He pointed to the example of the Unstereotype Alliance as underlining the need for a different approach to ensuring the industry reflects society.

Measure what you treasure

Commenting on the launch of the All In industry wide diversity census, the IPA’s Vaz explained that the approach is about “measure what you treasure [because] what gets measured, gets done.” Weed urged the industry to step up because the census’s success depends on total industry buy in.

He said: “We have to understand a benchmark of where we are, to start to think about how we use that data to start to shift things.” This census will take a truly pan-industry approach to furthering the diversity and inclusion agenda. “This is for every organisation to begin to look at what they begin to do individually,” added Duffy, explaining that internally at Moneysupermarket they have been conducting an ethnicity pay gap audit, and actively making changes based on that data, as well as a micro aggression audit.

Duffy underlined that “it has to become about actions in 2021 over words.” He wants to see the focus on hiring, on promoting training to ensure there is no hidden bias. As he said, it’s about hiring “for the team to become the organisations for tomorrow.” As Weed added, “Use this year as a step change.”

I see the role of advertising going forward as to how you can change consumer behaviour for the better.

Keith Weed

Creativity can accelerate mass adoption of sustainability

The panel also explored the way in which creativity can combat the climate crisis. “Advertising can be a tremendous accelerator of behavioural change,” said Weed, explaining that, as “advertising is the voice piece of brands,” it has a role to play in really encouraging people to change their behaviour when it comes to tackling the climate crisis. “Creativity can drive need mass engagement and mass adoption for sustainable living and lifestyle,” he added.

Vaz underlined the role of business in tackling the climate crisis, explaining that, “unless we have support of business more broadly to these commitments, it’s clear that governments alone won’t be able to make this shift.” He believes that we need to do more to learn from the grassroots movements, to be people that provide solutions. As he said, “legislation often lags behind the companies that are being pioneers.”

“I see the role of advertising going forward as to how you can change consumer behaviour for the better,” Weed noted, while also underlining the importance of industry action on carbon emissions. Responding to a question on how Extinction Rebellion has highlighted advertising as part of the problem behind the climate crisis, Weed explained that in the midst of the real crisis the world is facing, “the more people who shine a spotlight on what we are doing as humankind and as a business the better.”

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Virtual Events RESET 2021