From channeling John McClane, to creating necessary friction, to buzzing back in real life, to roaring for our Lionesses, and much more… our agency heads share their ad industry highlights from the past year.
As the nights close in and the holidays draw near, we will soon be watching classic Christmas movies on repeat to keep us entertained throughout the season.
The title of my favourite festive film sums up the ad industry’s year: Die Hard. Whilst some will argue whether it is a Christmas movie (it is), there can be no debate about the all-action John McClane (Bruce Willis) who unknowingly finds himself in the middle of a major incident, a terrorist takeover of a Los Angeles skyscraper, and very soon realises there is no-one to save the hostages and the day - but him.
We may not have had to save Nakatomi Plaza. Still, the advertising industry has similarly found within itself the grit, wit and sheer ingenuity to overthrow the significant challenges it faced in 2022. A record number of courses completed by IPA members, the inaugural Talent Conference and the launch of the Pitch Positive Pledge, the cross-industry effort to reduce the unnecessary wastage of pitching.
For me, the year's highlight was the IRL return of the ultimate industry classic, the IPA Effectiveness Awards. There has never been greater scrutiny on marketing investment so this was timely evidence of the power of creativity to deliver outstanding results. This was most impressively demonstrated by ITV and VegPower, to whom I was delighted to award the President's Prize for Behavioural Change, and of course the brilliant Grand Prix winner, Cadbury Dairy Milk.
A highlight for me has been the increasingly heightened debate amongst marketing experts such as Binet and Sharp in terms of long versus short termism, attention and effectiveness. Not just the debate but the engagement, studies and opinion this is whipping up amongst the wider advertising community. It is crucial that we have friction in order to drive progressive thinking- especially as we can no longer trust that increasing share of voice directly correlates so strongly to increasing share of market, and even more so given the turbulent economic conditions. This is pushing agency land to step up and develop smarter thinking, evolving the agency/ client relationship ever more in to the consultative space.
The sheer variety and volume of work we’ve created across multiple channels. Special mention goes to HSBC, with both our people and clients demonstrating real creative bravery to blend creative, data and technology to build truly integrated campaigns – from using AI to help them reveal the ‘faces of fraud’, to driving purpose-driven campaigns to raise awareness and help those suffering from financial abuse.
The people. Our industry thrives when we meet, discuss and mingle. Throughout 2022 our office has been open full-time with a staff capacity of around 70% daily and it feels good to be back face-to-face with clients for briefings, meetings, coffees and lunches. Across the UK, Council and City Head meetings are in-person again and large IPA events are back on the agenda. I’ve missed the mixing, and I’ve craved that buzz you get from meeting a new person, or hearing a new idea and wondering how that might work for my agency, staff or clients – it’s great to be back!
Our industry’s response to The Lionesses nail biting 2-1 Euro victory this summer is without a doubt my highlight. We saw FMCG staples, retailers and large corporates get behind our squad. The reactive work delivered after the landmark win was awesome with work from Weetabix, Royal Mail and Specsavers standing out. The win has changed how the nation views women’s football, the challenge now is supporting girls at grassroots level and making football accessible to all – our industry has a huge role to play here, with corporates like Barclays already working to make this a reality.
Production is all about collaboration and the best work is made when everyone is aligned behind a great creative idea and the right approach. Over the past few years in agencies, we’ve seen producers and business affairs find their way further upstream in the creative process and pulling up seats in the C-suite as Chief Production Officers. 2022 saw the industry continue to elevate the role of production and recognise the immense value and knowledge that production departments bring to the creative process, the profile of agencies, and the product that agencies ultimately provide to clients – the work.
At the IPA’s Production Policy Group we’re proud of the continued evolution of the Production Essentials Certificate for assistant and junior producers, and excited about the future prospect of developing production-focused continued education modules for experienced producers and business affairs managers in order to ensure individuals - and by extension, agencies - are equipped to produce at the highest standard. In addition, our ongoing collaboration with the APA has been incredibly fruitful over the past year, with emerging initiatives that include a standard Code of Conduct for all productions and, taking a page from the IPA/ISBA Pitch Positive Pledge, creating best practice recommendations for the production treatment & pitch process.
In what could have been a pretty subdued time for the industry, the crop of Christmas advertising has been a welcome influx of bold creativity to round off the year. John Lewis has nailed the difficult 16th album and captured the mood brilliantly, while Asda’s Christmas ad has been a treat for Elf fans everywhere. And TK Maxx added a note of very stylish daftness to the festive period. If Christmas ads are the canary in the coal mine for the state of creativity, they appear to be chirping loudly.
2022 has been an outstanding year of growth (c.30% yoy) and innovation in OOH. More and more brands new to OOH, or returning post COVID, have embraced the opportunities to achieve real-world audience reach cost-effectively; to utilise audience data to deliver more dynamic messaging by context and location; and to drive relevance and measurable sales effect. Campaigns such as Tesco’s multi award winning ‘Together this Ramadan’; Specsavers’ ‘badly installed billboards’; Meta’s mesmerising use of 3D; blockbuster projections for Star Wars on Battersea Power Station; Subway’s dancing pigs and many others, demonstrated how technology, data and creativity in OOH are fuelling ever-better advertising experiences for people.
It’s been a tough and turbulent year of course. But looking at Armadillo’s clients, we’re seeing a greater level of marketing resilience than before: I’m encouraged to see continued investment in effective, data-driven campaigns and programmes that keep customers engaged in challenging times.
My highlight this year was chairing a joint initiative between the IPA and the Marketing Society on Diversity and Inclusion here in Scotland. It was one of the first events after Covid restrictions were lifted and it was fantastic to see such a great turn out with a really engaged audience. And of course, we got to hear from the wonderful Leila Siddiqi!
It has been heartening to see the extent to which sustainability has been moving up the agenda for clients and agencies over the last 12 months. A particular highlight for me was seeing so much great work in this space being celebrated at the inaugural Campaign Ad Net Zero awards.
We still have a lot of work to do across the industry. Our decarbonisation efforts are really only just getting started, but there are some amazing people driving this agenda and I am excited to see what comes next.
The opinions expressed here are those of the authors and were submitted in accordance with the IPA terms and conditions regarding the uploading and contribution of content to the IPA newsletters, IPA website, or other IPA media, and should not be interpreted as representing the opinion of the IPA.