The advertising industry is facing one of its biggest challenges in living memory.
Which is why in my role, as the head of the APA, I’m calling for everyone in the ad world to pull together in order to help protect jobs and the wider economy during the Coronavirus outbreak.
According to the Creative Industry Councils, advertising contributes £120 billion to the UK economy. Whilst government statistics indicate there are 499,000 advertising and marketing jobs in the UK creative economy – a substantial number of which are self-employed or freelancers.
Those businesses that invest in their brands during this period of uncertainty, making sure they remain visible to their customers through advertising, will emerge strongest.
As the virus continues to spread and offices begin to close, brands will invariably begin cutting back in various areas, including their ad spending. But, we know from years of research that advertising is a proven engine of the economy, particularly so, during times of a downturn. Those businesses that invest in their brands during this period of uncertainty, making sure they remain visible to their customers through advertising, will emerge strongest.
The economic importance is clear, but there are further implications specific to the production sector. Many of the people working on productions, from runners, to set designers and even directors are self-employed. The cancelling or delay of advertising productions will hit these people with significant cashflow problems. They are the lifeblood of the industry and it is critical we support them.
Technology means the workforce is more dispersed than ever.
The APA of course understands there are going to be many difficulties arising from the coronavirus outbreak. Already many productions are being postponed, but now is the time for brands, agencies and production companies to work as closely as possible in order to prepare for when business picks up again. Creative development, pitching, bidding jobs, effectively getting everything prepared for such time as when everyone feels comfortable to be in production can continue during this time. It means we can hit the ground running when the opportunity arises and continue to provide employment for as many people as possible.
There is no legitimate reason for this not to be the case. Technology means the workforce is more dispersed than ever. Remote working is a norm for many in our industry, which will help limit the impact office closures and travel restrictions could cause.
Productions may stop, but it does not have to mean planning, preparing and still working hard must cease as well.
I genuinely believe our world-class advertising sector, with its unique combination of creative, strategic and production capabilities, is ready to provide all the support that UK and international brands need.
There are still good solutions available at the moment too, with animation companies and VFX companies being able to create new material and with remote working already in effect, so the virus won’t affect their ability to work.
I genuinely believe our world-class advertising sector, with its unique combination of creative, strategic and production capabilities, is ready to provide all the support that UK and international brands need. We want, need to and can work. If we pull together we can come get through this together.