Stephen Woodford
Stephen Woodford
A view from Stephen Woodford

Supporting our Ukrainian ad industry colleagues

The Advertising Association has been using its close association with UK government to work out how to best respond to events in Ukraine and help ad talent from the country. CEO Stephen Woodford explains.

The first direct contact we had about the events in Ukraine was from our fellow Cannes Lions representatives: Ukrainian colleagues that we know from the Lions reps meetings hosted each year ahead of the Lions festival of creativity. Their rallying call to all the Cannes Lions representatives set the tone early on – you can read their words and ask for help on our Ukraine hub here.

The conflict was at the top of our AA board agenda earlier this month as our board members shared insights of how their organisations were responding, addressing the immediate challenges of supporting talent, considering the implications of business withdrawal from Russia and asking what more we can do as an industry. It was clear from our board that they wanted us to focus on our role of close liaison with government, helping share industry developments and government advice, while representing how our industry best responds to an invasion and war that has shocked us all.

We quickly liaised with the government and the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), sharing the latest intelligence on what our industry was experiencing and how it was responding.

Supporting talent

At the same time we have worked with colleagues at BEIS so we can promote a new job opportunity platform, built by our European colleagues to help Ukrainian nationals who may be looking for work opportunities here in the UK. There is a great deal of Ukrainian talent well used to working with UK businesses, especially in TV production and in digital design and build. If their careers can continue with UK businesses for as long as the current crisis continues, so much the better for them and their families.

This unique platform AdAid.eu has been created by the Polish National Association SAR in collaboration with the Ukrainian National Association, and was brought to our attention by our colleagues at the IPA, themselves a member of EACA, the European group for agency trade bodies.

It was agreed we should take responsibility for promoting this, and after due diligence, we are urging UK companies to offer appropriate postings. Whether these roles are based in London, at offices in Warsaw or other European cities, or indeed even through remote work, the pandemic has taught us to work with greater flexibility and through virtual channels that were never as simple or possible before. If we can offer work opportunities to Ukrainian colleagues, we should.

Navigating the UK's visa requirements

Immediate UK job vacancies can be advertised on a remote basis while the UK government regulates the status for Ukrainians arriving in the UK. For recruiters planning to post a role that would require Ukrainian nationals to be based in the UK, this will be subject to the UK government’s visa requirements. Currently, the government has two visa schemes available to support Ukrainian nationals leaving the country: the family visa scheme and local sponsorship scheme – you can read more via our Ukraine hub, which will be kept updated continually.

There are also considerations when posting roles intended for Ukrainian nationals to do remotely – such as tax, international data transfer, IP rights and employment rights. We urge businesses to take legal advice if they have any questions to ensure these factors are considered before posting.  

So far, the platform has seen a swell of support from its European founders. There are over 200 vacancies currently advertised on the platform, with locations from Warsaw to Dusseldorf, Madrid to London, with a broad range of roles across the advertising industry. Those affected by the crisis who are seeking work can also post their CVs on the platform for free, too.

Collective voice

Beyond the job platform, we have been actively collating the many positive ways in which our industry has been responding to the crisis. We encourage everyone in our industry to visit our Ukraine hub and share their own initiatives with us so we can feed these into our government contacts, and help find further ways to help.

For example, our colleagues at the Advertising Producers Association have so far raised over £300,000 for Ukrainian production company Radioaktive’s mission in Warsaw, while we have seen fundraisers by national newsbrands raise millions of pounds from the public in a matter of days.

Radio has provided commercial airtime for the Disaster Recovery Fund and TV is hard at working creating fundraising initiatives with the support of advertisers, such as that planned by ITV and Marks & Spencer. Everywhere we look across the industry, people are trying their best to respond in the most helpful ways that they can. 

We also continue to remind everyone that advertising revenue has a critical role in funding quality news, in a conflict where combating disinformation and supporting journalists reporting from the front lines is vital. 

If you are an ad agency, a media agency, a production company, or a client and are recruiting, please head to this link and post your job vacancies. For more information on the advertising industry’s response to Ukraine, visit our Ukraine hub and if you have an initiative you’d like to share, please get in touch with me and the team.

Stephen Woodford is chief executive of the Advertising Association

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