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commission system has provoked criticisms of being out of date and out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