adam&eveDDB eyes China for future growth

26 Apr 2018  |  David Pidgeon 
adam&eveDDB eyes China for future growth

As Brexit looms and the UK risks isolating itself from global business opportunities, ad agency adam&eveDDB says it is now looking to North America and China to help boost growth prospects.

The agency's CEO James Murphy, speaking at an Advertising Association event to mark the latest UK adspend forecasts, said that his business had already found “massive growth” in North America because technological advances had allowed the agency to project its capabilities globally.

The business, perhaps most famous for creating the John Lewis Christmas ads, is now looking towards China for another boost, describing the opportunities as “incredibly tantalising”.

“You're seeing an economy there with brands like Tencent and Weibo with great products like WeChat,” he said. “You’re thinking: these are global businesses in terms of scale, but they haven't even left China yet.

"It would be brilliant if we were able to position ourselves as the global consigliere," adding: "we are already world leaders in effectiveness in creativity and technology and innovation."

Murphy said he is now keen to open an office in China, but said it is not an easy market to access.

“You need partnerships out there. You need people to help you into the market. The protocols are different. The way they view working with overseas businesses is different.”

Murphy’s comments were made during a debate about the future of the UK ad industry, which is on course to secure a decade of continuous growth in terms of adspend.

UK adspend grew 4.6% to reach £22.2bn in 2017, the eighth consecutive year of growth.

The final three months of 2017 saw expenditure grow 6.2% over the same period in 2016, with adspend pushing past the £6bn barrier for the first time in a single quarter.

The full year advertising growth forecast for 2018 has also been upgraded by 1.4 percentage points to 4.2% growth, and a further rise of 3.8% is expected for 2019.

However, some analysts believe Brexit risks destabilising that growth, and so Murphy, who is also chairman of the Ad Association, called on the wider industry to sell itself as a market leader abroad.

“We need to work very hard to counter the sentiment that [the UK post-Brexit vote] is somehow more inward looking and less global,” adding: “I think we're going to have to overreach to try and do that…and sell the fact we've got the best marketing sales industry in the world.”

Murphy added that in the same way people in China would think of Switzerland when thinking of quality watches, the ad industry must make them think of the UK when it comes to marketing sales.

“I think we need to be very, very bullish about it and really set ourselves apart,” he said.

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