The new chair of the Institute of Practitioners in Advertising (Scotland), Murray Calder, has declared an agenda of 'engagement and collaboration' in a bid to re-energise the industry in Scotland.
This is his inaugural speech as chair, in full:
It’s an honour to succeed Ken Dixon as chair of the IPA in Scotland. I’d like to thank him for the commitment he’s shown to the IPA in Scotland over the past two years in what have been extremely challenging times for our industry. He has maintained his enthusiasm for the task in the face of difficult circumstances and I hope I can show similar determination over the course of my own two year term. Because I suspect these challenging times aren’t quite over yet…
Pressure on Government and private sector budgets isn’t going to go away any time soon. We see talented young Scots moving south or reversing my own journey and moving client-side where livelihoods might at least seem a little less uncertain.
In some instances they are leaving marketing altogether and there are genuine concerns about where the next generation of talent is going to come from.
There have been instances also of high profile Scottish accounts moving to bigger, sometimes better known London-based competitors. Perhaps most worryingly, I feel the strong sense of pride and community that once existed in the Scottish advertising industry evaporating as heads have turned, perhaps understandably, inwards to focus on survival.
It’s easy to sit around and moan about the decline of the advertising industry in Scotland isn’t it? But what are we actually going to do about it? It’s our industry, our community and I say it’s time we got stuck in and did more to change things for the better.
There’s precedent to support the assertion that we can change our situation for the better. Three hundred years ago, Scotland was among the poorest, and poorest-educated, nations in Europe. But by 1750, we were the most literate, the country of which Voltaire said, “We look to Scotland for all our ideas of civilisation”.
By the 19th century, Scots were central to the expansion of the British Empire and the economic and technological advances of the Industrial Revolution. It was the collaborative effort of just a handful of – admittedly, pretty exceptional – men brought together by a shared outlook and desire to change things for the better that made this come about. Hume, Smith, Hutton, Kelvin, Watt and their contemporaries invented the modern world.
Today, we still lead the world in key areas of science, medicine and engineering and we have a global reputation for computer games development – in Dundee, of all places. We’re a creative and inventive people. So what’s to stop us being world-beating in advertising too?
Prior to taking on the role of chairman, I took the time to speak with many of those who have been actively involved with the IPA in Scotland over the last ten years. I asked what was working and what could be better. I hope what I have to say reflects the insight and guidance you were kind enough to take time to give me.
I also re-read David Ogilvy’s classic, On Advertising, which, apart from its enduring fame, stood out to me because the only other words on the cover are “I hate rules”.
This probably won’t surprise those of you who’ve worked with me in the past. “Because we’ve always done it that way”, or “we tried that and it didn’t work”, or “we’re not allowed to do that”, are phrases I’ve banned in many a session and I hope not to let them hold our industry back now.
As I was preparing this speech, one other phrase from Ogilvy’s book caught my attention: “The best way to increase the sale of a product is to improve the quality of the product.” This mirrors the stated purpose of the IPA in Scotland – to make our members more successful by raising the standard of professionalism within the Scottish ad industry but I suspect we could all still learn from David Ogilvy’s advice.
Another advertising legend, Leo Burnett, also had some words of wisdom.
He said “what helps people helps business”. IPA members in Scotland have access to a huge range of services. The Continuing Professional Development and legal services in particular are almost universally talked about as great examples of what the IPA does well for its members here in Scotland – over 300 IPA members have attended training sessions in the past two years and almost 50 have completed the Foundation Certificate.
But as I discovered during my recent induction in London, there are many more services on offer and many of them are available for free. How many IPA member agency staff do you think know that? I had no idea before I took on this role so I imagine not that many of them do either.
It feels as if membership of the IPA has recently become something of a corporate responsibility, something that Scottish agencies do only to access services like CPD logs and legal support. But the IPA is an organisation for its members, the people who work for member agencies. How, other than the well-regarded formal training programme, should we be helping these people in a way that will help make our businesses better?
I have two central thoughts which will guide my agenda for the next two years: Engagement and Collaboration. Engaging our membership on a more regular basis with relevant activity and collaborating more effectively with those bodies that most influence the advertising and marketing industry in Scotland.
Firstly, I want to ensure that the IPA in Scotland engages more often and more effectively with its members – and our potential members – in effect, with anyone who works in a marketing services agency in Scotland. Over the next few months, we’re going to re-contact everyone within our member agencies to clearly explain to them the role, value and upcoming programme of the IPA in Scotland.
I also intend us to reach out to those agencies who are not yet members of the IPA in Scotland.
In particular, I hope we can bring more of the digital agency community into the fold. I hope they will allow us to come and meet with them to better understand what they might want from membership of the IPA as well as to discuss what they can offer to the advertising community of which we are all part.
As part of this digital drive, I also want to reach out to our universities and colleges. The University of Abertay in Dundee is the UK’s first Centre for Excellence in Computer Games Education and, I’ve recently become aware that Glasgow School of Arts is launching a degree in Digital Culture this September.
I believe that the IPA has a role in bringing together the digital and traditional elements of our industry because by learning from each other we become stronger together.
After so many years working in the drinks industry you won’t be surprised to know that I quite enjoy the odd social event now and again.
But in tough times, it’s hard to get people out socialising without good reason. So I hope to establish a regular series of events featuring inspirational leaders both from within, and outwith, the advertising industry. I am currently arranging a September date with Professor Byron Sharp, Director of the Ehrenberg-Bass Institute for Marketing Science at the University of South Australia and author of How Brands Grow, who has some controversial (but, I think, hard to refute) assertions about how marketing works.
I realise that might not ‘float everyone’s boat’ so I’m also using contacts to approach Rockstar Games, one of the great Scottish success stories of recent times, to have them speak to the IPA membership about how their creativity has made them world famous.
Tomorrow’s ‘Future of TV’ conference also brings some interesting speakers to Scotland including the IPA’s Director General, Hamish Pringle.
I thought the recent Question Time-style event was one of the better IPA sessions I’ve been to in recent times and I think it’s a format worth repeating. I was particularly pleased to see so many students in the audience that evening but younger agency staffers were notable by their absence.
We need to give them a reason to engage, something that might pique their interest. I intend future IPA events to be an opportunity not only to hear from interesting people at the top of their game but also a time for us to socialise together, get to know each other better and ultimately, collaborate more effectively on accounts we share now, or might in the future.
Before the end of this year I’d like to establish two new IPA Social events on the Scottish advertising industry calendar – a summer barbeque and a Christmas Ball – hopefully filling some of the gap left by the demise of the ‘Pub Club’ and ‘Scotsman’ events of years past.
All of the best work I’ve been involved in, either client or agency-side, has been delivered through truly collaborative effort. Getting the right people in a room with a shared agenda and a commitment to work together to solve the issue at hand is my preferred method of working. I intend to further develop a collaborative approach to the IPA’s relationships with other marketing bodies in Scotland.
Our involvement with the Edinburgh International Marketing Festival last year was a great initiative – we sold out our allocation of tickets – and we are currently in discussion about the form of our continued involvement in August this year.
We are also in positive discussion with the Marketing Society about a mutually supportive relationship and we will be involved with them in the celebrations of what would have been David Ogilvy’s 100th birthday later this year. We’ll provide more specifics about these initiatives once the details have been finalised.
These are the probably the most immediate and most obvious aspects of this collaborative approach. However, I intend to explore two others over the course of the next few months.
Firstly, how we as an industry relate to Government. The recently published White Paper on the Creative Industries in Scotland mentions the advertising industry in passing.
The Scottish Creative Industries Partnership Co-ordination Group has six practitioner reference groups – Film, Music, Product Design, Design Services, Publishing and the Performing Arts. I intend to contact the Minister, Fiona Hyslop, to identify how the IPA in Scotland can contribute.
I’m also aware that Scottish Enterprise has recently commissioned a pilot study into the contribution that the advertising industry makes to the Scottish economy and I’d like us to identify how best the IPA in Scotland can contribute to any further investigation.
In summary, I think my agenda for the next two years is pretty simple and straightforward – a more frequent and more relevant programme of engagement with current and prospective IPA members and a more collaborative approach between those bodies in Scotland who have an influence on the industry.
I’d like to leave you with one thought. I, indeed the IPA, can’t change the fortunes of the Scottish advertising industry alone. It’ll take all of us working together to create a brighter future for the industry. I hope you’ll all join me in doing more to change things for the better.