Bellwether reaction: Industry remains optimistic despite Brexit uncertainty

Agencies RPM, Sense, FreemanXP and Momentum discuss the latest Bellwether report and Brexit's impact on the industry.

Bellwether reaction: Industry remains optimistic despite Brexit uncertainty

The key finding of Bellwether's lastest report, released today (14 July), was that event marketing budgets increased by a record high (+13.4% ) in the second quarter of 2016. 

Niru Desai, vice president of strategy at FreemanXP EMEA, isn't surprised by the results. She explained: "We are a screen intense society – over time our devices have replaced the live interactions that used to take place naturally and on a daily basis. This has given rise to a desire for meaningful face-to-face experiences across both B2C and B2B."

However, the Bellwether report noted that the survey was conducted prior to the UK's EU referendum last month and, as a result, it predicts a drop in adspend for 2016 and 2017

In response to this forecast, Nick Adams, managing director of Sense, said: "Overall, we should remain optimistic about the Bellwether findings from an events and experiential perspective, despite the overall prediction on decreasing adspend. The historical figures paint a positive picture of a buoyant event market, which is encouraging, and the report significantly notes the shift in marketing spend between sectors that we believe is firmly set to continue."

How will Brexit impact brand experience marketing?

Adams believes that brands will put a much greater emphasis on marketing activities that can yield a direct return on investment and an immediate impact on brand awareness and visibility in the market place. He said: "Long-term objectives remain key but in uncertain times brands shift greater emphasis to short-term returns, monthly penetration and sales figures and ensuring the next three to six months provide a stable outlook."

Recruitment is a concern for agencies, as Hugh Robertson, CEO and founding partner of RPM, explained: "The movement of talent and labour is a concern. Yet the industry has already proved that a more diverse and inclusive workforce results in more success for clients and their commercial challenges.

"There is no industry better placed to embrace change than the agile, nimble marketing community. There may even be new opportunities and potential investment as the pound freefalls, making the UK more attractive for global budgets."

Luke D’Arcy, president of UK at Momentum Worldwide, agreed: "The very local and regional uncertainty could lead to larger scale opportunities as brands seek stability and economies of scale with a consolidation of work through global and regional reviews. The one certainty is that strong brands and strong agencies will adapt and survive.  

"The Bellwether findings are a barometer but, as we have seen, times change fast. The smartest businesses will use this time to innovate and find agency partners that can offer a balance of stability and strategic sales-led creativity that will see them come through this period stronger and more successful."

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