Brand Experience Report 2017: The impact of Brexit

The creative industries were rocked by the UK's decision to leave the EU in June 2016 but, more than one year on, how have agencies been affected?

Brand Experience Report 2017: The impact of Brexit (iStock)
Brand Experience Report 2017: The impact of Brexit (iStock)

Research for the Brand Experience Report 2017 revealed that 14% of agencies see political uncertainty as the most prevalent business challenge in 2017, with 9% citing Brexit.

"Brexit isn’t a threat for us as of yet, because nobody knows what’s going to happen," says Jim Robinson, managing director of Frukt. "Some of the alcohol brands we work with are hesitant – they don’t want to invest too much at the moment because of the manufacturing and bottling elements of their business that happen in Europe. That will have an effect. There’s a nervousness, but we haven’t seen a direct impact yet."

There is a feeling that clients will use Brexit as a reason to cut costs and take longer to make decisions. "Some people are happy to use Brexit fears as an excuse for their own nervousness," says RPM managing director, Dom Robertson. "While it is very much business as usual at RPM, what we don't know about the implications of Brexit is how clients will choose agencies – will they be encouraged to use local agencies? There is still uncertainty around that."

Brexit has led to questions over London’s future as a global hub for brands, as well as staffing concerns. Stuart Bradbury, managing director of Avantgarde, explains: "The two main factors are London’s uncertainty as the European and global hub for many blue-chip brands and the ability to widen our search for talented individuals from countries within the EU. A large proportion of our work is across multiple markets from European or global clients based in London. Any relocation of our client head offices to other more commercially favourable markets could have a big effect on UK business.

"Equally, many of the talented individuals who work at Avantgarde are from EU countries; should the flow of talent be restricted in any way then this would make finding great staff even more challenging than it already is. Plus, having a mix of nationalities provides a more positive work culture and wider view on our world."

With every threat, there are, of course, potential business opportunities, particularly for those with a global reach. Chris Cavanaugh, chief marketing officer at Freeman, says: "Brexit could present opportunities as some international programmes splinter off and become more localised and customised."

"The biggest threat is that we are entering into the unknown, and uncertainty isn’t great for business confidence," admits Russ Lidstone, CEO of WRG, part of The Creative Engagement Group. "However we know that the UK is well regarded for our creative services sector, so there is no reason to believe that UK agencies won’t retain or strengthen our position as leaders in the creative agency space. We remain very confident that there will be plenty of opportunities for the most integrated and talented event, digital and content groups."

View the full Brand Experience Report 2017 here, plus the top 45 agencies list

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