Nigel Vaz's President's Reception Speech

There is much to look forward to in 2020.

IPA President Nigel Vaz is striking a positive note in his first address of the year, pointing to the findings of the latest Bellwether Report, the collaboration between IPA and ISBA, advances in diversity and inclusion efforts, ongoing onboarding talent support and the IPA Effectiveness Awards.

Hello everyone. Happy New Year and welcome to the IPA President’s Reception.

And welcome to 2020 – a new year and the start of a new decade. I don’t know about all of you but I feel as though, after the turmoil of the last year and years, a cloud has been lifted and the immediate horizon is looking much brighter.

I say this in the knowledge that it’s dark outside, it’s cold, and it’s wet/windy. We are exactly halfway through January and about as far between pay cheques as it’s possible to be. Next week starts with ‘Blue Monday’, purportedly the most depressing day of the year. And January will seem artificially longer to those of you have bravely embarked on a dry month, or Veganuary, or started a new exercise regime that’s already beginning to feel a little overambitious.

So my first action as IPA President for 2020 will be to do you all a favour and make this speech what all good new year addresses should be – short, to the point, and unequivocally upbeat.

Because there is much to look forward to in 2020.

For the first time in four years, we will have the auspicious confluence of the Euro 2020 tournament, the Olympics from Tokyo and the US Presidential elections. In each of these significant competitions, whether your team wins or not (and let’s face it, they probably won’t) our hopes will have been raised and spirits lifted. And our own industry will definitely be on the winning side. According to Zenith’s forecasts, global advertisers will spend $7.5 billion more in this quadrennial year, leading to 4.3% growth [Note: this is despite headwinds of the ongoing US-China trade dispute].

At home, we have a new government and, at the very least, the promise of no further General Election or referenda for another five years. Again, whether you were happy with the outcome or not, the decisive result did act as something of a pressure release valve. That we have some resolution on Brexit, if not yet a deal or closure, has reduced uncertainty and points toward an uptick in business confidence, investment and ultimately growth.

The IPA’s own Bellwether Report is showing that bounce. You will have seen earlier this week the latest Bellwether revealing marketing budgets climbing out of stagnant or negative growth in the final quarter of 2019 and – even better – the anticipation of strong growth in total marketing budgets for 2020.

I, the IPA, and I hope our industry will head into 2020 on the back of this new wave of positivity.

I, the IPA, and I hope our industry will head into 2020 on the back of this new wave of positivity. After all, my IPA agenda, and the very concept of REIMAGINE, is not to imagine or wish that things were different. But to embrace the idea that things can and, by working together with conviction, will be different.

I have seen, but cannot agree with, those industry commentators who suggest that as an industry we have become too ‘woke’ to the social issues of our day, that brand purpose is a distraction from business growth. Or that change-fatigue is killing creativity. Or that complexity is just too depressing to keep talking about.

I can promise you that I am, and everyone here at Belgrave Square, is fully committed to embracing change and to establishing our members and our industry, as true partners for growth for our clients. We will be the champions for the creativity, effectiveness and value that our industry uniquely can bring to business and brands. And at the forefront of every conversation that underpins that – on trust and brand safety, on diversity and our social and environmental responsibilities, on skills and training, and that our members begin to share in the benefits of growth delivered.

To that end, this year you can expect:

  • The greatest level yet of collaboration between IPA & ISBA, as the two Councils get together for the first time on 6 February to pursue and drive forward our partnership in growth. This is a vital step in our commitment to help our clients reimagine their futures, and so to reimagine our own.
  • You will see advances in our diversity and inclusion efforts. Our late spring Members’ Lunch will share our regular decade review of what is happening in our talent funnel – which first started with Marilyn Baxter’s Women in Advertising Report in 1990. For our 2020 update journalist Emma Hall is looking at the real story behind our diversity numbers.
  • We will partner with Campaign and Unilever in the first ever i-List, in May – a celebration of the industry role models whose actions are driving a more diverse and inclusive advertising industry. Entries for the i-List close next Tuesday the 21st, so there’s still time to nominate yourself or a colleague as a champion of inclusivity. Details are available on the IPA website.
  • Another step-up for Advertising Unlocked – our annual careers open day which in 2019 saw a record 100 member agencies nationwide open their doors to future young and diverse talent. My company has already signed up for 2020 and we will be looking to you to ensure your agencies do the same.
  • A greater understanding of how technology can be harnessed for creativity to drive growth, in the shape of an IPA-led tech mission to China so that members can experience for themselves what’s is in development in China’s leading tech companies.
  • We have begun a full review of the IPA’s learning and development programme. Already the global gold standard, we will ensure our training and qualifications are extended and future-proofed to provide a continuous career skills path – from entry-level to executive leadership – the equips our people and agencies always to add value and drive growth for our clients’ businesses and brands.

And 2020 is an Effectiveness Year. In fact, not just any effectiveness year, but the celebration of 40 years of IPA Effectiveness Awards. It is not lost on me that 40 years on, there is there is greater value than ever in championing the very best work we have done for our clients. And I’m proud to add to those Effectiveness Awards the ‘President’s Prize for the Best Contribution to Effectiveness Through Technology’.

What has changed over forty years is the complexity of the landscape which could not have been imagined. Forty years measuring engagement/impact is the norm rather than the exception. Forty years on, the IPA has developed a whole range of Effectiveness learning modules. We also have ten years of consumer insights through TouchPoints. Our place at the top table should be secure with all this knowledge at our fingertips, but I suspect as an industry we have become driven by the needs of short-termism and the impact of new work, rather than be the persuasive drivers of the importance of long-term strategy. So in this 40th year, we will provide more published proof of the value we create and growth we deliver, through the cases submitted to the IPA Effectiveness Awards.

And so for me, and I hope you too, 2020 will be about giving voice to our ability, agility and clear vision so that no one is in any doubt that we are in the business of transforming business, reimagining what is right and what is possible.

While embracing change we must keep telling our stories. You are here tonight because you are a story teller or have helped the IPA tell its story.

Thank you for the work you do for our industry.

It is passion that makes magic and is the catalyst to make good things happen. So whether you are having a dry January or not, on behalf of Paul and the team at the IPA, I wish you a very happy new year and a successful year ahead. Thank you.

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Last updated 21 September 2020

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