Marketing the world

Why Britain is great for advertising.

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Influencer marketing agency Whalar was founded by UK university drop-outs Neil Waller and James Street three years ago. Today it has offices in the US, Netherlands and Singapore, and helps major brands all over the world connect and collaborate with independent content creators to promote their goods and services. It is one of thousands UK advertising and marketing agencies which are combining the country’s well established creative strengths with cutting edge technology.

Chaired by Sir John Hegarty, a founding partner of Saatchi & Saatchi, Whalar has worked with high-profile clients such as Dubai Tourism, helping them partner with 57 social media content creators across the globe to drive awareness of Dubai as a tourist destination. This prompted engagement with over 18 million unique social media users in the US, Netherlands and Singapore, and helps major brands all over the world connect and collaborate with independent content creators to promote their goods and services.

It is one of thousands UK advertising and marketing agencies which are combining the country’s well established creative strengths with cutting edge technology. Chaired by Sir John Hegarty, a founding partner of Saatchi & Saatchi, Whalar has worked with high-profile clients such as Dubai Tourism, helping them partner with 57 social media content creators across the globe to drive awareness of Dubai as a tourist destination. This prompted engagement with over 18 million unique social media users.

Advantages of doing business in UK include language, timezone and talent

It’s an economy where manufacturers and advertisers are able to come together and generate flexible, globally-relevant creative material.The latest advertising and marketing awards season has been dominated by two campaigns from UK-based advertising giant AMV BBDO: Bloodnormal and Trash Isles. Bloodnormal sought to break down taboos surrounding menstruation, while Trash Isles campaigned for the UN to recognise an area of plastic refuse the size of France in the North Pacific as a sovereign nation to prompt awareness of climate change.

These projects stormed the Drum Advertising Awards 2018, winning the Grand Prix and Chair awards respectively. They also led the way at the global D&AD Awards 2018, where UK agencies brought home 164 of the coveted D&AD Pencils.

More than £23bn a year is spent on advertising in the UK. The US is the largest market for UK advertising services accounting for £1.1bn, followed by France (£655m), Germany (£619m), Ireland (£454m) and The Netherlands (£350m). Brands from around the world look towards UK creative talent to boost their profile and message. Forbes recently listed the UK as the best country to do business for the second year in a row.  

The UK is currently the number one country in Europe and third globally for inward investment, with 1,500 jobs generated every week across the country as a result of foreign direct investment projects. UK advertising exports have continued to grow year on year, from £4.9 billion in 2014 to £8.3 billion in 2017 based on the most recent figures from the Office of National Statistics.

The UK punches above its weight with innovative ideas

“We have always been a small country that punches above our weight, and the way we do that is by leading with innovative ideas that become transformational globally. If anyone’s going to invest in a combination of cutting edge solutions underpinned by proven demonstrable experience of supporting innovation, they’re not going to find any better than the UK,” says Verbalisation’s CEO Sven Hughes.

His company is another example of the innovative, outside-the-box marketing thinking which thrives in Britain. It uses a combination of focus groups and online research to effectively ensure a client’s verbal branding resonates more effectively with their audience. Verbalisation says it has helped the Wall Street Journal attract more than a million paid-for subscribers and worked with Jersey Finance Limited to create a wider understanding of the benefits of Jersey as an international finance centre.

Hughes says one of the strengths of his company is that it has been able to source its personnel from an outstanding pool of British talent. Home to three of the top ten ranked universities globally (Oxford, Cambridge, and Imperial College London), students in UK are also studying at world-leading educational institutions in the creative arts such as the University of the Arts London and the Glasgow School of Art.

Publicis Worldwide UK CEO Nick Farnhill says: “Britain is ambidextrous. Full spectrum. The diversity of interests and disciplines are mirrored by the range of new businesses and ideas appearing. “As a forward-facing creative company we work hand-in-hand with a whole ecosystem of new creatively driven partners which adds to the richness and quality of our work.” The multi-national advertising giant has been operating in the UK for more than 50 years. Last year Britain was one of the fastest growing territories in the business, which was worth nearly £7bn globally.


Publicis worked with Tourism Ireland to develop a recreation of the Bayeux Tapestry using scenes from Game of Thrones (Credit: Publicis)

Britain: one of the most recognisable, enduring and powerful identities in the world

Publicis’ UK foothold has helped it run successful global advertising campaigns including: Tourism Ireland which aims to promote Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland as holiday destinations, several multinational initiatives with Heineken, and lastminute.com’s ‘What makes you pink?’ campaign. Late in 2017, the Advertising Association published a study on the personnel who work in the industry, in partnership with LinkedIn. The report revealed that a diverse international workforce is central to the UK’s position as a global advertising and marketing hub.

Around 2.5% of the advertising and marketing workforce in London have migrated from abroad, three times more than the corresponding figure in New York and also higher than in Paris and Amsterdam. If businesses wish to sell to the world, it’s helpful to come to the hub where you find the world represented in one place: the UK.