What the Q2 2021 Bellwether Report means for agencies

UK marketing budgets grew for first time in year and a half according to the latest report.

As marketing budgets saw their strongest upward revisions since Q1 2019 with businesses preparing for economic recovery we asked industry leaders for their thoughts on what this means for adland.

Paul Bainsfair, Director General, IPA:

"These positive results mark the end of five quarters of continuous cuts. For revisions to UK marketing budgets to bounce back so quickly and strongly, following their nadir at the height of COVID-19 restrictions in Q2 2020, is very welcome news and corroborates our Bellwether prediction for a V-shaped recovery. As the vaccination rollout continues at pace and UK plc gears itself up for growth, we encourage companies to ramp up their advertising to make the most of post-lockdown, pent-up consumer demand."

David Shearer, Managing Partner, MediaCom Edinburgh and IPA Chair for Scotland:

"It is hugely encouraging to see UK businesses getting ready for a strong economic recovery in the second half of 2021. Understandably, there are lingering concerns over the potential impact of the recent upsurge in coronavirus cases and new strains but broadly confidence is steadily improving due to rising vaccination rates and anticipation of a full re-opening of the UK economy. This is being reflected in forecasted advertising expenditure levels and I’m certainly hopeful that the predicted pent-up consumer demand will continue this road to recovery."

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

"After over 16 months of learning to live and work in a pandemic, I am delighted to see that the Q2 2021 Bellwether Report shows real signs of positivity and confidence in our economic future. There’s no doubt that there are still concerns within the business community, but the building momentum of the recovery is outweighing them for the first time in many months. We must always remember that what we have experienced over the last year has not been a ‘market failure’, it has been driven by a most dreadful pandemic."

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

"After eighteen months of uncertainty there is finally something to be optimistic about. It’s truly refreshing to see real evidence of growing confidence in businesses as they prepare for a strong economic recovery and invest into their marketing programmes.

"With over half of the UK population fully vaccinated and further relaxing of lockdown restrictions, brands are clearly looking to increase market share and strengthen communications with their customers, this is evident in the report with PR enjoying the highest upturn of expenditure during Q2, since Q4 2019.

"There is understandably some caution around new strains of the virus and customer behaviour, but if the situation continues to improve, these forecasts suggest we can look forward to a more stable and brighter future."

Amy Lawrence, Digital Director, MediaCom and Chair of the IPA Digital Marketing Group:

"After such a difficult 2020, it is fantastic to see the optimism in this Bellwether Report. It is no surprise that this is reflected especially in digital budgets, as the industry continues to recognise the shift towards ecommerce, and focuses on performance goals. Although there are reasons to be cautious as we leave behind many of the pandemic restrictions, increased consumer spending means we should be confident that this trend will continue."

David Fletcher, Chief Data Officer, Wavemaker UK:

"Pretty much every business has worked out that the future will still have an office – a consistent gathering point and source of common interest and identity – but that there are other ways of doing these things. Some of these are quite good to have in the mix so sure, let’s have an office but maybe make it a bit smaller? The latest Bellwether data suggests that the Market Research sector is suffering the same dynamics – still needed for marketing but not the only way of doing things now that the pandemic has taught us other routes to blend in for insight and effectiveness."

Purchase the Q2 2021 Bellwether Report
Last updated 10 November 2021