Brexit: Let's make the most of this
A view from Claire Beale

Brexit: Let's make the most of this

What a fabulously exciting week.

And, ironically, the delicious prospect of another new, dynamic and first-class start-up headed by Grey’s Nils Leonard, Lucy Jameson and Natalie Graeme (Grexit?) wasn’t the most thrilling thing to happen.

The country’s decision to quit the European Union, and the subsequent political fallout, financial upheaval and emotional turmoil, has been exhilarating. Bitterly disappointing, yes, but I can’t remember a time when the industry was so united in impassioned reaction, energy levels so pumped and debate so feverish. If only the referendum was still a month away and there was time left to harness all this collective passion…

Unfortunately, industry voices were this week too often galvanised into proclamations of doom and public acts of self-flagellation. Enough now. There are plenty of commentators already piling in to identify the lack of cut-through communications from Britain Stronger In Europe as evidence of how denuded the traditional advertising model now is. Our industry failed to land a compelling message for Remain and, as Charles Vallance points out, there are serious lessons to learn. But as the analysis of the campaign clearly suggests, the communications failure was largely a result of the disjointed and ineffectual process itself rather than the agencies’ creative and, particularly, strategic capabilities.

So, instead, let’s be in no doubt of the power of our industry, when it’s allowed to be at its best, to shape and influence opinion. There are already some murmurings among agencies about collaborating on positive messaging that Britain is open for business on the global stage, getting out on the front foot to showcase Britain as a new trading force. Of course we should do this. The power to help reposition Brand Britain lies in our hands. Instead of talking ourselves into the abyss, far better to adapt and flex, seeking out and promoting new growth opportunities for British brands selling outside Europe and for global companies and talent looking for new access to Britain.

Yes, we need to deal with the realities of the current turmoil and long-term impact, but therein lies a very real chance for agencies to work with marketers to pursue fresh opportunities. After all, our industry is home to a potent mix of creative, strategic and brand marketing expertise and, in tough or uncertain times, you want the best on your side. So now is also the time to showcase our place as a global centre for creative excellence. As Adam & Eve/DDB’s James Murphy said this week: "The Swiss are recognised as the best watchmakers in the world, regardless of their position outside the European Union. Now we need to redouble our efforts to be strategically and creatively the best advertising centre of excellence in the world." Time to look forward, then, to focus on the industry’s strengths and on upping our collective game.

claire.beale@haymarket.com      
@clairebeale

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