UK ad industry heads to China for Export Month

A delegation of UK agencies and production companies, led by Promote UK Chair and IPA Director of Marketing Strategy, Janet Hull OBE and Advertising Association Chief Executive, Stephen Woodford, will be heading to Shanghai with the UK’s Department for International Trade (DIT), to meet Chinese agency peers and brands to explore new opportunities to grow links and business at the start of the British ad industry’s first-ever Export Month.

UK ad industry heads to China for Export Month

The mission coincides with the Shanghai International Advertising Festival (SHIAF), taking place from 4-8 March and will include a UK/China Global Brand Forum event on Wednesday 6 March to share experiences of successful UK/China agency and client relationships and to introduce new UK agencies to China. The group are also co-hosting a Drinks Reception for China agencies and a VIP Dinner for China brands.

The presence in Shanghai is the first of a series of events taking place during March as part of the Promote UK group’s Export Month. This campaign is the biggest effort yet to showcase UK advertising services to international audiences and features a wide programme of activity with the aim of promoting the UK’s advertising services to key markets around the world. Following Shanghai, UK advertising will also be showcased during March at SXSW in the USA, via a production industry mission to Tokyo, a new online Export Accelerator resource from DIT and the launch of a new report on exports at Ad Week Europe in London.

The mission to Shanghai comes following the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on behalf of the AA and IPA by CEO Stephen Woodford in November 2018. Central to this agreement, and in addition to the Brand Forum event, is an AA/IPA/SHIAF partnership that will bring more UK advertising expertise to China in the future, including British judges, entries and speakers. It will also see more agencies and production companies co-operating with a growing number of their Chinese agency peers and brands.

Underpinning the mission is an awareness that China is a high growth market for consumer products and services. Similarly, the stable and wealthy population of the UK and population of wider Europe provide opportunities for companies, brands and agencies from China to expand in Western markets. China’s Belt & Road initiative and the UK’s hopes for Brexit are both based on a wish to look beyond national and regional borders and economies to take advantage of growth right across the world.

In tandem with the growing UK advertising presence in China, Chinese businesses have been growing their presence in the UK. Advertising businesses such as Hylink Digital Services and branded businesses such as Huawei are early movers from China into a marketing that is the world’s fifth largest economy and opens doors to Europe, the Middle East and Africa and beyond. In May 2018 Tencent’s Senior Executive Vice President Seng Yee Lau signed an MOU with the British Secretary of State for International Trade Rt. Hon. Dr Liam Fox MP for cultural collaboration around the creative industries, noting that London’s history of blending technology with tradition makes the UK a natural fit for partnership. There are also now excellent international campaigns being run out of UK-based agencies for Chinese and Asian brands like Alibaba, OnePlus, Huawei and Mandarin Oriental, which demonstrate how far the UK has come in understanding how to work well with China.

In addition, UK experience agency Imagination and production company Framestore are now prolific in China and benefit from Chinese investment and Chinese talent. With most still relatively modest in size, there are new possibilities for UK and China businesses in the creative technology - Createch - segment to find new trading and investment partnerships to help achieve greater scale and international reach.

The IPA also has over 50 agencies in membership that have offices in China, equipped and ready to take Chinese products and services out to a wealthy international audience, or to deliver fresh ideas for a Chinese audience

Says Baroness Fairhead CBE Minister of State for Trade and Export Promotion, Department for International Trade: “The demand for British advertising services in markets like China is real and significant and the launch of the Government’s new Export Strategy will ensure that UK brands and agencies have the support they need to succeed overseas. This mission is part of the UK Government’s wider aspiration to continue to position the UK as a creative and digital innovation hub to the world and an ideal partner for business growth, and I wish it every success.”

Says Janet Hull OBE, Chair of Promote UK and Director of Marketing Strategy, IPA: “This mission is a further step in the Promote UK industry group to raise awareness of UK advertising at scale to drive reputation, target key influencers and decision-makers for in-depth engagement. We have a long history of sharing the best thinking and best people. We bring advertising know how and an appetite for knowledge sharing, and we hope to make connections that will bear fruit in and with China for mutual benefit.

About Promote UK:

Promote UK was launched by the Advertising Association in March 2018 in support of the Government’s Industrial Strategy and is chaired by Janet Hull OBE, Director of Marketing Strategy at the IPA. It is an industry group formed to position the UK as the top global hub and centre of excellence for advertising as the post-Brexit transition period approaches. Promote UK works directly with the Department for International Trade (DIT) and aims to ensure UK advertising takes a central place in the GREAT campaign. The group’s objectives are to raise awareness of UK advertising at scale to drive reputation; target key influencers and decision-makers for in-depth engagement; and ensure marketing services are included in DIT Foreign Direct Investment pitch presentations across all sectors of the economy.

Calendar of Promote UK Events for 2019:

Mar 03–09

  • SHIAF / Shanghai International Advertising Festival

Mar 08–10

  • SXSW / Austin, Texas
    • The UK advertising sector will host events at the DIT Music Embassy on the first weekend and take part in networking events and buyer meeting support

Mar 25

  • APA Tokyo UK Advertising Production Forum
    • This APA advertising production and SFX mission to Japan to engage Rugby World Cup 2019 and the Tokyo Olympics 2020 sponsors and agencies is supported by DIT

May 14–16

  • World Retail Congress / Amsterdam
    • DIT welcomes UK advertising sector businesses to join other UK retail focused businesses and share the facilities on the UK trade stand. UK advertising will be represented on the main stage, and the IPA will be a judge of the retail advertising awards

Jun 11

  • Createch / London
    • The annual showcase event of the UK Creative Industries Council in London Technology Week, where DIT work to bring overseas buyers and partners to learn, to identify opportunities in the UK and to meet UK partners

Jun 17–21

  • Cannes Lions / France
    • The AA / DIT Promote UK team are representing the UK at Cannes Lions for the first time


  • CIAF / China International Advertising Festival
    • The IPA and the AA/DIT Promote UK team join the Belt and Road Advertising Co-operation Congress at CIAF to foster long-term relationships with the China Advertising Association and brand owners and agencies from China seeking to go international


  • APA / Advertising Showcase Amsterdam
    • The APA are presenting a showcase of best UK produced ads of the year to the Amsterdam advertising creative community, supported by DIT
Last updated 21 January 2022