- Thursday, Jul. 21, 2016
- NEW YORK
The Midas Awards for the World’s Best Financial Advertising polled its international network of agency and industry creatives, inviting them to weigh in on how Britain’s historic exit from the European Union will impact the ad world.
With an eye on failing stocks and the plunging pound sterling, the Midas Awards global roundtable discussed what, if any, new opportunities this monumental change brings to the table. “Brexit highlights the need to think beyond any national or regional borders, and to have global vision,” said Ken Muir, founding partner, Mohawk UK.
“This isn’t good news for our creative friends and colleagues across the pond, but on a purely mercenary level, Brexit had an immediate effect on the affordability of European creative talent thanks to the huge drop in value of the Euro and the British Pound, said Charles Coxe. co-president and executive creative director, Saga USA. “Uncertainty on the part of European clients also means that there is more talent freed up to work on projects based in the United States. We have seen these (hopefully temporary, for their sake) benefits firsthand.”
Frank Izzo, CCO, Blank Page Ink USA, said, “I do not see any positive effects on the creative side. The opportunities will be outside the UK as the creative epicenter of Europe could shift.”
The advertising industry is watching and waiting to see how the industry will fare over the next few years as the UK negotiates a new treaty to replace their membership in the EU. “Our agency has global clients based in the UK, as well as clients in the US, continental Asia and Australia, and these are particularly vital to us given the short term uncertainty,” added Muir. “If we were solely reliant on UK-centric clients, I think we might be concerned about opportunities in the future. Thankfully, that’s not the case at Mohawk.”
Daniela Vojta, SVP, creative director, McCann XBC New York, said “There’s a great divide in the UK and brands have a chance to tap into people’s psych and send them a message that they understand what they are feeling. They can be provocative or earnest, but it could be a time to take risks and take a stand.”
Client side changes are anticipated. Muir stressed seeing an increasing centralization of their clients’ marketing functions and budgets over the last few years, and suggested this may change if companies move their HQs out of London entirely--but it’s still too early to call.
Dylan Taylor, creative partner, The Dylan Agency Australia, said, “From a client’s perspective, there’s more uncertainty, as everyone waits to see how Brexit plays out. More uncertainty normally means less consumer spending, so more marketing will chase fewer pounds.”
Ian Henderson, creative director for UK’s AML Group, cited short term uncertainty and delayed decisions and budget freezes as potential client side changes, in addition to some reluctance by EU based clients to appoint UK agencies due to uncertainty over longer-term trade deals--although lower costs may help this. Henderson also mentioned the possible eventual relocation of FS and related clients from London to Paris, Frankfurt, etc. as potential changes.
“Clients will have to be more in tune,” said Vojta, “with what’s happening around them...young people will expect brands to respond to the current events and take a stand.”
With 20 brands heralded as the strongest B2C brands topping the 2016 Consumer Superbrands survey, the question remains, how will Brexit affect UK-centric brands and the creatives employed to build those brands? “I think UK-centric brands are going to have to invest in a lot more research, as the marketplace may be changing dramatically,” said Muir. “It’s possible that social media (and social media monitoring) will become even more important than they already are--as the currency of information in a rapidly-changing/volatile market is more important than ever. I’d like to think that small, nimble agencies who are able to react quickly to changing dynamics will thrive--but perhaps that’s just wishful thinking!”
“Brexit is already affecting creatives based in the UK and the rest of Europe--since the decision, we have had dozens of previously booked creatives in Europe reach out to us directly looking for U.S.-based work, as they see that as more reliable right now,” said Coxe.
With London’s financial sector being home to over 250 foreign banks, the Midas Awards global roundtable shifted their view of Brexit to focus on financial institutions, Vojta commented, “Financial Institutions will probably have the hardest time since Brexit has caused such a major turmoil and they’ll have a lot of problems to solve beyond marketing. However, smart creative can re-install faith and optimism and turn people to their side.” According to Henderson, “The UK will continue to be seen as centre of expertise for FS and related sector brands and now better value; but UK agencies will need to work at retaining clients and talent by the usual methods (award-winning ideas mostly!).”
The results of the Brexit vote led FutureBrand to explore the impact of Brexit on the UK’s brand utilizing their country brand index. In an article in Design Week, the UK’s country brand strength was ranked at 12 in the list of top “country brands” in the 2014/2015 country brand index. FutureBrand’s index explored 18 perceptions that people have around the UK brand. Political freedom was one of the weakest perception scores, with the article stating that with the UK declaring its independence, that perception could change. Positive perceptions cited for Brand UK include: made in, infrastructure, public services, heritage and historical points of interest.
Anna Karena, creative director, Wunderman Bienalto Australia, commented, “Britain’s own brand as a nation is so iconic--a million globally seen analogies and ideas must have been built off it. The texture for re-defining this, modernizing, re-inventing is the most exciting blank canvas and deeply rich creatively.”
Founded in 2001, The Midas Awards competition is billed as the only awards show to recognize excellence in financial marketing and advertising on a global scale, honoring the World’s Best Financial Advertisingsm from all over the world.