The ads industry in Ireland says it is working its way through the Covid-19 crisis with two-thirds of industry professionals finding creative ideation and production as easy as under normal circumstances.

The Institute of Advertising Practitioners in Ireland’s (IAPI) leaders survey of director-level individuals in the sector paints a picture of the industry working its way through the crisis, doing what it does best – solving problems creatively for clients.

However, there is no denying the impact of falling advertising on the industry and especially the impact this is having on smaller agencies.

“We should apply our creative thinking to business problems not just communications. Help them understand if their brands should be active in the market before we help them work out how”

“The industry is highly resilient and agile, determined to continue providing the best possible strategic and creative thinking to their clients,” said Charley Stoney, CEO of IAPI.

The Irish advertising industry generates revenues in excess of €1.4bn for the economy annually, directly employing over 3,000 professionals in advertising, creative, PR and Experiential with a similar number employed indirectly.

Ads sector is working through Covid-19

According to the IAPI’s survey, two-thirds (66pc) of respondents find Creative Ideation & Production as easy as under normal circumstances. This reflects the agility of the industry to adapt to new ways of creating communications for their clients and we can see the results of this problem-solving ability in recent campaigns.

For example, the recent Vodafone work created remotely by JWT Folk and the domestic abuse awareness campaign for the Department of Justice & Equality also produced remotely last week by TBWA.

According to the survey, six out of 10 agencies have won new client business in the last month and 91pc are actively engaged in pitches. 

A whopping 86pc of IAPI members say they are working on Covid-19 related campaigns at the moment and nearly two-thirds are working on brand new campaigns.  For instance, CORE, TBWA and OMD are some of those involved with HSE and Government agency information and awareness campaigns.

As you would expect, nearly half the respondents find business planning or forecasting difficult at this time.

Nearly all the respondents (98pc) are happy to take part in pitches reflecting the industry’s willingness to continue working as normally as they can, although two-thirds have indicated that timelines and the level of creative required for pitches should be re-assessed in light of the restricted circumstances.  

Proving their worth

Half the respondents say they are working closely with production and post-production companies to provide innovative solutions that bring campaigns to life. 

“The current crisis is a chance for agencies to really prove their worth to our clients. We consider ourselves as valued partners,” says Patrick Meade, managing director, Boys + Girls.

“Now is the time to prove it. We should apply our creative thinking to business problems not just communications. Help them understand if their brands should be active in the market before we help them work out how.”

Looking to the future

The IAPI Leaders Survey also shows that the industry is already looking to the future.  Over 90pc of respondents believe that there will be fundamental changes to how the industry works with remote working being more commonly utilised by agencies in future. 

“We’re seeing some brilliant examples of Irish creativity at this time, from outstanding pro bono work for charities to innovative solutions for the production of TV commercials”

Whether this makes some of the larger, beautifully presented agency offices a thing of the past is debatable, but it has certainly helped the industry take a more positive view of flexible working. 

Over a third of respondents believe that the crisis will result in further consolidation in the sector and 45pc also believe that the crisis will spur us on to improve our technological capabilities and so service our clients better as a result.   However, only one in ten respondents believe that this crisis will act as a breeding ground for new, digitally enabled start-ups. 

Ironically, at the IAPI Leaders Strategy day in January, one of the biggest challenges facing the industry was retaining and attraction talent. 

Now, three months later, leaders believe that it will be easier to both retain people (61pc) and attract the best talent (37pc). 

Half remain determined that the sector maintains its focus on up and coming talent, so the sector is well equipped for recovery.

9 out of 10 leaders find client communications as easy, if not easier than under normal circumstances and, 8 out of 10 state that they’re in regular contact suggesting ways in which they can promote their clients’ brands in an authentic, relevant manner. 

Two-thirds are working on interesting and innovative campaigns as well as learning new ways of working more efficiently with clients.

In a positive development, 61pc of respondents believe this new way of working will give them the confidence to work remotely with clients on an international scale which will be a key component of the Irish industry’s ability to recover and grow in the future.

Naturally, three quarters of respondents are concerned about their teams feeling uncertain and insecure during the crisis. 

“This survey shows an Irish advertising industry that is very much open for business, supporting, advising and guiding our clients,” said Shenda Loughnane, group managing director of Dentsu Aegis Network and president of IAPI.

“And we’re also seeing some brilliant examples of Irish creativity at this time, from outstanding pro bono work for charities to innovative solutions for the production of TV commercials.”

Pictured at top: Charley Stoney, CEO of IAPI

Written by John Kennedy (john.kennedy3@boi.com)

Published: 21 April, 2020

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