Q2 2019 Bellwether Report - Industry Reaction

Comments from agency leaders on the latest Bellwether data

The Q2 2019 Bellwether Report saw UK marketing budgets flat-line in second quarter following growth in Q1. Here's how the industry reacted.

Key points from the Q2 2019 Bellwether Report:

  • Growth in first quarter proves to be temporary as no change in marketing budgets registered in Q2
  • Rising political and economic uncertainty generates caution among businesses
  • Own-company financial prospects at most negative since the end of 2011
  • Internet marketing strongest growing as firms target digital and social media
  • Adspend to grow modestly in 2019, but improvements forecast for 2020 onwards

Michelle Wright, Company Director, Gough Bailey Wright and IPA Chair for England & Wales:

"It is increasingly important that marketing budgets are used effectively to ensure they target the key audiences to gain maximum return on spend during these uncertain economic and political times. If companies reduce their marketing budgets too much this could have a detrimental impact on their market share. Companies are always advised to be brave during these uncertain times and IPA agencies can provide advice on this.

"It is increasingly clear that the Government needs to move forward effectively and with confidence, in order for the certainty to be restored in the economy.”

Guy Vickerstaff, Creative Director, The&Partnership Edinburgh and IPA Chair for Scotland:

"In the midst of 2019’s political and economic omnishambles is it any surprise we’re seeing marketing budgets flatlining? And against a backdrop of widespread marketing short-termism this chaos has created a real sense of stagnation.

"But we must lift our heads. Our industry must continue to build on the relationships of trust we’ve established, to partner our clients for growth over the longer term. In all the belt-tightening it’s important not to lose sight of that."

Valerie Ludlow, CEO, ASG & Partners and IPA Chair for Northern Ireland:

"The term ‘Brexit uncertainty’ has been overused in the last couple of years. However, these latest figures do suggest that a real decline in business confidence has at last set in. In Northern Ireland, the increased political uncertainty caused by a non-sitting Assembly and border uncertainty has already lead to a disappointing, but characteristic revision in marketing spend. Now, more than ever, it must be the role of the IPA and its member agencies to demonstrate the measurable return on investment and sound business sense of a continued long-term marketing strategy for UK business."

James Goddard, CEO, Gravity Global:

“When you have such a strong start to the year, it’s only natural that clients will take a more cautious approach to Q2. Do we blame politics, or more to the point, Brexit? Possibly. Or do we just accept that clients now expect more? It’s our job to wow, but also to keep finding creative ways of working. Digital and social media should form the foundation of any robust marketing plan, and the growth in these areas is the strongest it’s ever been. And good old-fashioned advertising isn’t going anywhere, with brands recognising that building awareness is hugely important for continued success.”

Patrick Reid, Group CEO, Imagination:

"Events continue to buck the trend in total marketing budget spend for Q2 2019 and remain in growth. At Imagination, we've believed in the power of experiences for over 50 years. By creating a holistic environment, brands have the ability to tell their stories and educate in an inspiring, innovative and engaging way. They’re also able to hold customers’ attention for far longer than the few seconds that a conventional advert would and have a deeper level of engagement - that’s why we continue to see predicted growth in events spend into 2020."

David Fletcher, Chief Data Officer, Wavemaker UK:

"Advertisers are living in a challenging environment of ‘now and not yet’ – toughing out the existing and continuously changing political and economic uncertainties whilst having an eye towards an unformed post-Brexit future.

"Under such circumstances, the continuing decline in forecast investment in Market Research is understandable: it’s just too difficult to articulate clearly enough what the question is. However, it should also be a wake-up call for market research practitioners to rethink approaches to enable stronger and more directional support to businesses in times of uncertainty."

See key points from the Q2 2019 Bellwether Report

For additional information, please purchase the full Q2 2019 report (£99+VAT for IPA members, £140+VAT for non-members) that also has content detailing threats and opportunities facing marketers and their companies over the coming 12 months. The report includes charts comparing business confidence amongst survey panellists to wider economic output, which depicts how views on financial prospects are a function of the current business environment. Annual subscription is available by contacting economics@ihsmarkit.com

Last updated 25 July 2019