New Institute of Practitioners in Advertising (IPA) President Nigel Vaz has issued a clarion call to the advertising industry to transform to become partners for growth for clients in a world of rapid and fundamental change. Nigel unveiled his ‘Reimagine’ agenda in his inaugural speech to an audience of leading figures from the communications and wider business communities at the IPA's Members’ Lunch.
Nigel recognised the value of the work his predecessors had done with their agendas as presidents. "Sarah [Golding] has done a brilliant job in setting up the IPA and its member agencies to embrace the new possibilities of technology and data, and to understand the potential of machines to help us create magic," he said. "Prior to that, Tom Knox introduced the drive to improve diversity in our industry, which becomes even more important in the context of creativity and technology coming together. And Ian Priest’s ADAPT agenda saw the IPA begin to partner with clients to help us shape what is our common future."
Acknowledging that he's the first IPA President from a technology background and the first of Indian-American heritage, Nigel pledged to use his different perspective to change the relevance of agencies to clients, and to establish agencies as partners for growth.
“Most companies are great at their core business, but not great at reimagining the future of their business," he said. "Agencies are no different from their clients in this regard. Our challenges and future success are interconnected.
“My agenda will be to Reimagine – to build new relevance and maintain it. We must reimagine our Role, Revenue and Responsibility. Through these three Rs we will commit to helping our clients transform for the future and, by so doing, we will reimagine relevance for ourselves.”
In setting out his ‘Reimagine’ agenda, Nigel outlined the three focus areas:
The transformation of agencies’ role and relationships with clients will reflect our changing times and developing technologies – helping clients to reimagine their businesses and the way that they engage with their customers. Agencies will commit to become clients’ partners for growth, by transforming agency models and ways of working. This will be achieved through:
- The development of a suite of IPA qualifications fit for the age, that clients come to see as a prerequisite for the work agencies do in partnering with them for growth. These will include an effective IPA MBA, delivered in partnership with leading business schools.
- The establishment of a process to incorporate ‘Chartered Practitioner’ into the IPA’s qualifications programme, building on its Royal Charter status – earned in 2016 in recognition of the quality of IPA training.
- The launch of a major consumer study, ‘The Future of Brands, Communications and Experience’, to explore the consumer’s experience of brands and communications in a digital age.
- A ‘Data Magic’ initiative to ensure that the full potential of bringing external and internal data together is realised, and that the magic is maximised when creativity and data work together.
Revenue is the golden ticket that will help agencies escape the pressures they are under, and the prize when they successfully reimagine clients’ and their own operating and compensation models. Agencies and clients are hungry for new success models for growth and evidence of the benefits of reimagining ways of doing things. These will be identified through:
- The launch of the ‘Reimagine Challenge’, to encourage agencies to act like a start-ups and explore and develop new business models. The IPA will work with private equity partners and intermediaries and international partners to identify and share new agency success models, to develop a growth mindset, and to ensure agencies deliver maximum value to our clients and are fairly remunerated for that value delivered.
- The introduction of a new IPA Effectiveness Awards President’s Prize for the ‘Best Contribution to Effectiveness through Technology’ – to demonstrate the most effective use of technology to help reimagine how a brand engages with its consumers.
- Key ‘Reimagine’ themes will be put at the heart of the IPA’s Eff Week – exploring ideas for business growth in the digital age.
A reputation for trust, transparency and progressive business and employment practices depends on reimagining the responsibilities of both agencies and their clients. This includes agencies taking a more active role in protecting clients’ interests and becoming true guardians of brand safety. It means reimagining what a fair agency contract looks like, to create win-win situations for agencies and clients. It depends on agencies being beacons of inclusivity and diversity. These will be achieved through:
- Acknowledging and addressing agencies role wherever we can add trust and transparency for clients and consumers in this digital world. We will partner with government, with ISBA, the IAB and AOP – and, where necessary we will act as a critical friend to the digital duopoly where standards in brand safety, online harms and transparency have been breached.
- The creation and maintenance of sustainable, value-led relationships that work for all parties based on mutual respect. The ‘ISBA/IPA Sustainable Relationships Working Group’ will promote the alignment of marketing, procurement and agencies and provide the foundation for future relationships.
- The reporting of diversity ratios for women in leadership roles, and BAME people in both entry-level and leadership roles will become mandatory for IPA members agencies from 2021.
- The establishment of the IPA as the go-to resource for agency diversity improvements. The IPA will join forces with Creative Equals to establish an Equality Standard, which will provide the industry with the framework for member agencies to attain that Equality Standard as part of their Continuous Professional Development.
- The IPA, with ISBA and the Advertising Association, will look to launch a UK Chapter of the Unstereotype Alliance, the global programme run by UN Women aimed at removing stereotypes within creative work and improving gender diversity.
In closing his speech, Nigel sounded a positive note for the advertising industry and its clients: “I am optimistic and excited by what these next two years and beyond hold for our industry, to bring a new and different perspective, and to realise that – for consumers, clients and agencies – the change, challenge and certainly the opportunities we face are significant, and they are shared.
“We, the IPA, see what you see. In our work on behalf of our industry and the agencies within it, we will not shirk from our responsibility to advance our profession and its purpose in the business and the wider world, to shape and own the future.”