In his first speech to the ISBA annual conference since his appointment in January, Smith said Procter & Gamble chief brand officer Marc Pritchard’s intervention on transparency and The Times investigation that found brands inadvertently advertising against terrorist content had not raised "new issues".
However, he admitted that there was much to do on tackling these problems. "It’s fair to say that progress has been too slow."
"The time to act is now," he said, urging the audience to come together to fight "apathy" and "lift our sights from the demands of the day job".
"You can expect this voice to be vocal, to seek to have an impact on the world," he said, reflecting on his role and the future direction of the body.
Smith outlined his four-point manifesto that would guide his tenure as director-general:
- a media environment that works for advertisers;
- fostering new thinking that drives effectiveness;
- quality and diversity of choice for advertisers;
- freedom to advertise responsibly in line with the self-regulation system.
Touching upon ISBA’s controversial media services framework, which irritated some parts of the media industry when it launched last April, Smith said he hoped it would be rolled out more widely.
He revealed that VCCP Media and Engine Media had agreed to use the framework as well as the7stars and Bountiful Cow.
Concluding his address, Smith told delegates that: "ISBA is here to play its part as an agent of change".
Separately, Smith highlighted the fact that only 29% of ISBA’s conference speakers were women and pledged to improve this for next year’s conference and not to clash with again with International Women’s Day.