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How UK House is Bringing British Advertising Talent to the World



Covid-19 didn’t slow down the UK Advertising Export Group’s efforts to market the UK internationally. Aisling Conlon, UKAEG Marketing Manager tells LBB’s Laura Swinton about how innovation is helping scale UK House and take it on a virtual tour

How UK House is Bringing British Advertising Talent to the World
The UK Advertising Export Group is an industry partnership with the UK Government to accelerate profile and lead generation opportunities in key international territories including China, Japan, South Korea, North America and Europe. Its founding partners are the Advertising Association, the IPA, APA, and the Creative Industries Council. The UKAEG is right behind the UK Government’s industrial strategy to grow exports globally and seek out and cultivate new markets.

Despite Covid-19, the UKAEG has continued to raise the profile of British creative, media and digital companies around the world. And if there was any doubt around the potency and impact of online events, a virtual trade mission to China has generated over £21m in new business for participants. 

UK House is the UKAEG’s flagship virtual event series, which kicked off at SXSW this year and is now going on tour, connecting British advertising and production companies with markets like Nigeria, the UAE and Brazil. It’s building on the pre-Covid, in-person trade delegations that have generated millions in new business opportunities. With the new format, the organisers are able to connect even more companies and individuals in even more markets. 

Aisling Conlon has been leading the efforts and here she talks to LBB’s Laura Swinton about the journey so far and hopes for this Autumn’s programme of events.

LBB> What were the origins of UK House?

Aisling> The UKAEG is the industry’s global new business drive in partnership with Department for International Trade. Pre-Covid, our strategy was to travel and attend events and when this wasn’t an option in 2020, we were quick to adopt a virtual strategy that grew from successful new business meetings and roundtables via Zoom to an online venue for the Creative sector -  as an official partner of this years SXSW festival. 

The inaugural UK House was a partner event at this year’s SXSW that brought together the wider creative sector with partners, including Arts Council England’s Future Art & Culture, British Council, Department for International Trade, UK Advertising Export Group and Audience of the Future Live. 

The programme celebrated UK creativity and innovation. Attracting over 2,000 attendees from around the world, the programme presented the best of UK art, tech, immersive technology, advertising, music, and innovation with a series of live events, short talks, panel discussions, workshops, exhibitions, and experimental music sessions.

Following the success of UK House at SXSW the UKAEG extended its partnership with DIT and has taken UK House to Shanghai International Advertising Festival (SHIAF), broadcasting to over 500,000 viewers, and most recently Cannes Lions as part of the GREAT campaign. Our move to virtual events has proved successful. For example, £21 million of new business has been won by UK advertising from our marketing efforts in China over the last 12 months. 

As a result, we are now introducing a new programme of activity to UK House, #TradeTuesday - a weekly event at UK House - for all UK advertising and marketing services companies looking to grow their international customer base.

UK House will host special events for advertising and marketing services professionals from India, Brazil, Nigeria, and Japan with more countries to be added to the virtual tour.  UKAEG now welcomes interest from companies looking to attend or speak at UK House. Companies can apply here or visit 

LBB> Can you tell me more about that £21m of new business from the Chinese market – that’s incredible!

Aisling> China is a great example of where our marketing drive for UK advertising pays off for the companies involved in our trade missions. Over the last two years, we have hosted a virtual trade mission, for companies in the UKAEG community, to the Shanghai International Advertising Festival (SHIAF). The virtual trade mission included twenty new business meetings, 15 showcasing and presentation opportunities and this year we also hosted an exhibition of UK Cannes Lions winning work. Our efforts in China have resulted in approx. £21.1 million of new business for some of the companies who took part in the mission. 

These results demonstrate the strength of UK advertising at a time when it is set to recover strongly, following the downturn caused by the global pandemic. The latest Advertising Association/WARC Expenditure Report - the only source to collect advertising revenue data across the entire media landscape - forecasts UK adspend will grow by 15.2% in 2021, to reach a total of £27.0bn. This will recover the entirety of 2020’s £1.8bn decline and is expected to precede a 7.2% rise in 2022, when the market will be worth a record £29.0bn.

LBB> How else are you assessing the scale and impact of the UKAEG’s efforts?

Aisling> In our UK Advertising Made Global campaign we point to the UK being a leader in innovation and we felt it was important to showcase this as well as say it. Pre-Covid our strategy was to travel and attend events and when this wasn’t an option in 2020, we were quick to adopt a virtual new business strategy. 

We have hosted showcase opportunities for those in the UKAEG community and to date over 700,000 viewers have joined us online at UK House and events, such as SHIAF, PHNX and CogX, over the last 16 months. 

Those 700,000 viewers have joined us from 38 countries.  Attendees are C Suite level and come from markets such as China, USA, India, Brazil, Canada, and Japan. 

LBB> What are the other memorable success stories you've learned about from British companies that have participated in UK House?

Aisling> We are aware of UK companies that have set up offices around the world. At our recent Going Global event, Julian Douglas, VCCP noted that it was through an IPA/UKAEG trade mission to China in 2019 that they were able to open an office in Shanghai. 

You can hear more from Julian on the Going Global discussion here and more from the UKAEG community here

LBB> And how have you been facilitating the individual connections that are so crucial to building relationships, remotely and at a greater scale?

Aisling> Our events at UK House have provided us with a growing database of global contacts, keen to hear and work with UK Advertising. 

To date, we have tested a few models for virtual networking and one that works best for us is roundtables which provide an easy way to make introductions. Our recent mission to SHIAF included face to face networking with 20+ emerging Chinese brands from retail, gaming and tech, meeting with 8 UKAEG members with offices in Shanghai.  

At UK House, over the next four months, we will host several roundtables and networking opportunities online and look to build a hybrid networking model for the new year as we bring UK advertising to SXSW and other key industry events. 

LBB> UK House is kicking off a targeted programme of virtual events - what can we look forward to?

Aisling> We have an exciting line-up of speakers from the UK and our key markets. Already lined up to speak at UK House are UK industry leaders such as; Daniel Cheetham, Happy Finish, Neil Davidson, HeyHuman, Michael Moszynski, London Advertising, Stephanie Whitaker, Ignis, David Ball, BrandFuel, Stephen Maher, MBAStack and Catriona Blampied, Procure Worldwide.  They will be joined by international industry peers such as Lanre Adisa, MD & Chief Creative Officer, Noah’s Ark Communications, Kelechi Nwosu, Managing Director, TBWA\Concept with more being added to the line-up over the coming weeks. 

The Advertising Association works closely with the Department for International Trade to promote UK advertising around the world through the UKAEG community. This year their virtual strategy has secured new business for UK companies in our export community. For example, their efforts in China have secured over £21 million for companies in the community in the past 12 months.
UK House is heading on a world tour, hosting virtual opportunities to meet and hear from UK advertising. Dates for your diary include 

October 19th – UK House at UAE – book here
November 9th – UK House at Brazil – book here
November 23rd – Booking opening soon
With dates for Japan, Amsterdam, Australia, South Korea and many more to be announced shortly.

If you share their ambition to grow UK Advertising, the Advertising Association would love to hear from you. Find out more about the UKAEG here.

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Advertising Association, Thu, 30 Sep 2021 16:51:00 GMT