With a new year of opportunity ahead, the Institute of Advertising Practitioners in Ireland (IAPI) is taking stock of where the Irish advertising industry is and where it wants to go. At its recent AGM, it appointed a new President: Jimmy Murphy, Director at Publicis Dublin. He was joined by several new members of the board, including John Matthews, Finance Director at In the Company of Huskies; Fiona Field, Deputy Managing Director at Mediaworks and Charlotte Barker, Deputy Managing Director at Dynamo.
With its new leaders in place, IAPI has laid out its aims for the industry. Its main focus will be rectify something that agencies often struggle with - proving the effectiveness of creativity. “Advertising is under intense scrutiny for the effect it has on business performance, and justifiably so,” says Jimmy. “The most ambitious clients and agencies welcome the challenge. However, historically, we have not been great at proving the effectiveness of our work, nor predicting the likely effect of advertising activity. These days, if you don’t have data to support your argument, you will not even get a hearing at board level. Our ambition this year in IAPI is to arm our members with the methodology to make compelling, data-backed arguments and to become the engines of business improvement. We will help engender a culture of effectiveness in our member agencies. ADFX will be the infrastructure for this.”
IAPI’s ADFX awards honour the most effective advertising campaigns that appeared in the Irish market every year and this year its theme will be ‘Everyday Effectiveness’, aiming to create a stronger culture of effectiveness in Irish advertising agencies. The institute hopes this culture shift will create a tangible change, as they identify the specific business metrics that matter most in each industry. The awards hope to provide agencies and their clients with the tools to audit the effectiveness of their advertising efforts, leading to a more defensible position for marketing teams where advertising investment is concerned.
Entries for ADFX 2018 are now open and entries can be submitted online here
‘A Line in the Sand
’ - a report recently commissioned by IAPI and undertaken by Karen Hand and Jill McGrath, CEO at TAM Ireland - explored the impact the advertising industry can have on a brand with a clear statement that advertising works gradually over extended periods of time and, while it is a significant investment for brands, it is one which delivers a return.
Some of the key findings from the report revealed that ADFX award winners enjoyed an almost 6% increase in their overall value market shares vs a 3% increase in value share for non-award winners.
Agencies need to back themselves more, Jimmy is convinced, but he’s keen to stress that they must be strategic in how they do it. “I don’t believe that just making a stronger case to clients would affect any change,” he says. “We need to find a remuneration system that works for clients and agencies. This means value-based pricing where the agency gets paid if and when the work delivers value for the client. Given the scale of the effect that good work has on clients’ brands (and ultimately business performance), clients will be happy to pay for work that delivers. This throws up challenges of course but the biggest challenge is convincing agencies to let go of old ways of working and charging.”
That much is evident in one of the most noteworthy recent business events in the Irish industry - independent Dublin creative agency Rothco’s acquisition by consultancy giant Accenture Interactive.
Jimmy sees this movement as very much in line with the general trends in the market. “Accenture has been buying high-quality, independent creative agencies for the past few years and Rothco fits the mold perfectly,” he says. “They’re a dynamic company, with critical mass in a strategically important city. It’s good news for Rothco as it will allow them to broaden their offering beyond creative and into the wider customer journey. I’d argue that it makes even more sense for Accenture: as process moves from human systems to AI and ML solutions, they’ll need to migrate their revenue sources to more conceptual areas like advertising creative. We’ll be some of the last ones standing when the robots come!”
Many of these trends are global, of course. As a growing economy in the European Union, Ireland’s market is tied to the business movements of the international market. Globalisation, Jimmy says, is being felt particularly acutely in Dublin. “Being a peripheral market, we tend to get buffeted by the forces of decision-making in hub markets,” he says. “The implication is that Irish agencies need a diverse revenue base to be sustainable. The ideal mix is revenue from domestic and global brands, across disciplines and preferably executed across markets.”
While they attempt to diversity their client bases, Irish agencies must also focus on the more human kind of diversity. The appointment of Fiona Field and Charlotte Barker to the IAPI board brings the female membership to a total of five out of eleven or almost 50%, a positive figure when reflecting on results from the 2017 IAPI census, which revealed that only 28% of board posts in the industry are held by women
On this front, Jimmy feels it’s important to pick two or three distinct strands and try to make concrete, measurable gains. Charlotte will be driving this agenda for IAPI and they are in the process of agreeing which areas to tackle first. “Gender is the obvious one,” says Jimmy, “but areas like ageism and sourcing talent from less represented socio-economic groups also interest me.”
All of these disparate struggles to move in a healthy direction are intertwined, as Jimmy sees it. “Quite simply, we have to be the best industry to work in,” he says. “More stimulating, more diverse, more meritocratic and better rewarded. Ultimately, all of the three strategic priorities that we’ve landed on for IAPI this year feed into this overall goal of making advertising the industry that will continue attract the most talented and creative people.”
Jimmy’s invigorated by the task ahead as IAPI president. “I’m loving it,” he says. “It’s a lot of work but it’s very rewarding. I often think of a piece of advice I got from one of my wisest clients – ‘we CAN do anything. It’s what we CHOOSE to do that’s important’. I guess that’s the essence of strategy so I’m just trying to not get distracted by the triage and immediacy of everyday concerns and keep our focus on the stuff that’s actually important.”