Perspective: UK creative industry shouldn't forget its superpower status

By Russ Lidstone, campaignlive.co.uk, Thursday, 28 June 2012 12:00AM

Even the most frequent visitor to China cannot fail to be taken aback by the scale and pace of change in the world's second-largest economy.

Russ Lidstone

Russ Lidstone

The frenetic development of roads and buildings, imposing skyscrapers, luxury malls, traffic jams and the blanket of smog over Beijing act as reminders of China's relentless quest to take its place at the helm of the global economy.

But there is more change afoot. China's model of inward investment, imports and exports is changing to a model of growth that is less capital-dependant. On opening the China International Fair for Trade in Services, Premier Wen Jiabao remarked that "acceleration of the services sector is key to the economic restructure of China" and a key part of the country's 12th Five-Year Plan.

And judging by the mile-long queue at the only coffee stand in a (larger-than-Wembley) venue hosting thousands, Wen is right. China's services sector simply isn't adequate and cannot meet the demands of its economic development.

The pace of change required for the service sector is necessary and ambitious - from 43 per cent of GDP in 2011 to 47 per cent by 2015. The UK services sector (including the creative industry) represents 70 per cent of GDP and is well-placed to support China in its quest to develop in services through investment - but, moreover, through expertise.

And that's where the UK creative industry comes in.

Chinese brands such as Moutai and China Telecom are increasingly well-represented in global brand value studies. But many recognise they need support in order to take a global view and expand beyond the internal market.

Meanwhile, as a proportion of GDP, the UK creative industry is the biggest in the world. We are hugely respected in China for our creativity - be it in architecture (the UK's Dandelion building was the winning pavilion at the Shanghai Expo), film, music or, indeed, advertising.

Stephen Maher, the chief executive of MBA, and I were invited as IPA representatives to talk about building global brands at the CIFTIS. Our presentation included UK creative and advertising industry examples, as well as globally integrated work from our own agencies (including Euro RSCG's Chivas campaign and MBA's for Embraer).

The overwhelmingly positive response to our presentation from both delegates and officials was a reminder that, within the IPA membership, we truly do have an international perspective, a wealth of knowledge and creative brilliance that are admired by those from afar.

In Chinese eyes, the UK really is a "superpower" in creativity and global brand-building - an ability that Chinese brands could well call upon in the months and years to come.

Russ Lidstone is the chief executive at Euro RSCG London

This article was first published on campaignlive.co.uk

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