A view from the top
A view from Tim Lefroy

A view from the top

Heard the joke about the old man in the last century whose butler brought him The Times in bed each morning?

He would anxiously scan the Obituaries section – and each day he wasn’t in there. So he’d then get up.

My days start like that on the iPad. Advertising’s media clips can make me want to stay in bed or jump up.

With better evidence, we’re making the case for advertising – creating jobs, growing the economy, encouraging competition, keeping prices down. Yet, for some news outlets, we’re the Wild West – making people too fat (or too thin), commercialising childhood, abusing people’s data, uncaring about payday loans or online gambling. Our own (ad-funded) press is often the battleground.

Today’s a good one. Ian Barber, our comms chief, is on BBC Breakfast and getting the economic story across. There’s our graphic – how £16 billion of spend is the catalyst to £100 billion of GDP and 550,000 dependent jobs. Not bad. Fifteen minutes later, he’s on BBC Radio 5 Live defending the Advertising Standards Authority’s self-regulation on alcohol advertising.

At the office, the team is looking at the programme. Vince Cable and Maria Miller will speak at our Parliamentary reception; we’re running a tactical campaign (thanks to all for ?effort and inventory); and we shall engage in earnest with manifesto preparation with the three main parties.

Then there’s the plan for advertising’s summit, LEAD, in January. It’s where leaders across agencies, media and brands shape the Advertising Association’s work. There’s a heavyweight programme and lots to discuss, from the next chapter in the Advertising Pays story to a view from the City on marketing communications. We must move advertising up the business agenda as well as the political. If you’re one of those with a view from the top, you should be there.

Next, there’s Advertising Week Europe – in London, March-April. What price a London Fashion Week for advertising? It’s all ambitious and needs hard prioritisation for our tiny staff.

There’s time on the phone. You might think that the AA is Tim Lefroy; it’s just not. It’s the best and most prominent leaders from our industries – from agencies, brands, media and companies of all types. My job is begging favours. All I ask is that people spend 99 per cent competing like hell and give 1 per cent to Planet Advertising; the fabric on which they all compete. It’s the generosity of those leaders and their trade associations that makes the AA work.

Then to Brighton and the fabled Media Business Course. It’s the 50th year and, in the evening, I salute 80 advertising legends at an AA dinner. Rosemary Michael, the course administrator, has been to the palace for this achievement and there are three AA Mackintosh Medal winners there. But, in the daytime, and late into the night, there are also 130 twentysomethings, competing like hell (yes!) for their syndicate to win the challenge of a real advertising brief. This year, it’s Coke and Christmas. And it’s the most fiercely applauded course in the industry. I go back on Saturday for the finals and see the drive, energy, originality and fulfilment that make the MBC and our industry great. It’s humbling to see the rising talent, and it explains what makes the hard yards of the AA completely worthwhile. And so back to London. And so to bed.

Tim Lefroy is the chief executive of the Advertising Association

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