EDITORIAL: Howell takes the helm of the IPA at a hopeful time

Turning Rupert Howell into the ad industry’s official spokesperson- as opposed to the unofficial one he has become over the past few years - may be happening at an apposite time.

Turning Rupert Howell into the ad industry’s official spokesperson-

as opposed to the unofficial one he has become over the past few years -

may be happening at an apposite time.



The business is much too self-obsessed, defensive and whinge-filled for

its collective health. As the incoming president of the Institute of

Practitioners in Advertising, Howell is well equipped to banish its

hypochondria.



His belief is that time and chance are coming together to the industry’s

benefit. Not only does advertising enjoy unprecedented levels of public

approval, but the business community is learning to cherish its brands

as much as its people, he argues.



Equally important is a Government which boasts about UK advertising’s

creative prowess to the world and the importance of advertising to a

vibrant economy.



Howell has always talked a good game. But, if his reading of it is

right, the business has a solid launch pad from which to deliver its

message.



Whatever happens, Howell’s presidency will have different emphases and

goals from that of his predecessor, Graham Hinton, whose two-year tenure

of the job was was one of mixed fortunes.



On the plus side, Hinton’s inclusive style has ensured that media

agencies and regional shops - often seen as the Cinderellas of the IPA -

were brought into the heart of its activities. What’s more, his defence

of the IPA’s uncompromising stance during the prolonged dispute with

Equity over commercials fees helped deliver almost total victory for the

industry.



The downside is that Hinton was off beam with the issues he chose to

champion. Grave warnings of management consultants moving in to steal

agencies’ lunch have proved an illusion while firm advocacy of the

commission system has provoked criticisms of being out of date and out

of touch.



Howell’s calls for a relaxation of unrealistic account conflict

policies, better-resourced regulatory bodies, a bridging of the chasm

between creative and media agencies, collective action to recruit the

best graduate talent and a positive response to the digital revolution

will be popular rallying cries. Let’s see how quickly the fine words are

translated into action.



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