UK Ad Industry Growth Depends on Nurturing Fresh Talent

By Institute Of Practitioners In Advertising ipa, PRNE
Wednesday, September 7, 2011

LONDON, September 8, 2011 -

Nicola Mendelsohn, President of the Institute of Practitioners in Advertising and Executive Chairman, Karmarama, has called on the advertising industry to work with higher and further education to develop fresh talent in order to embrace change, harness new technologies, and lead globally, at an invitation-only reception for senior agency heads, IPA partners and new recruits, held at Ravensbourne Skillset Media Academy this evening (8th September 2011).

During her speech Mendelsohn asserted how the advertising industry is a significant driver of growth in the UK economy, stimulating cutting edge innovation and job creation, and how it has a higher percentage of knowledge workers and high growth firms than the UK economy as a whole[*]. She also pointed out that the 250 agencies in the IPA membership drive the sector, last year hiring 700 new graduates.

Despite this success, however, Mendelsohn warned that in order to maintain its powerful position; the industry must not rest on its laurels. With considerable business volatility and intense competition from other markets, she stressed that it will be imperative for the advertising industry to grow its numbers - stating that it has the potential to double graduate in-take over the next few years - and, crucially, to ensure that they are equipped with the right skills to embrace the rapidly changing digital landscape.

To address this, Mendelsohn announced the launch of her comprehensive growth agenda to the industry audience, which has been documented in a new IPA report Creative Pioneers - the Future of Skills, Talent and Connections, and published in support of her Presidential agenda. The report, published today (8th September) puts talent firmly at the centre, and details the launch of a range of new programmes to attract a new mix of graduates and develop the next generation of advertising. They include:

IPA Talent Pool

A new initiative with top universities to use the IPA as a hub for graduates from non-traditional disciplines. In collaboration with the Top Employers’ directory and website, and encouraging the use of the IPA ‘Diagonal Thinking’ self-assessment tool, the IPA is seeking to help its member agencies identify top talent to fit the needs of the new digital economy: data analysts; strategists; creative leaders and project managers.

AM/IPA Educational Foundation

The IPA is joining forces with the Academy of Marketing to create an Educational Foundation, which will drive development and sponsorship of more dynamic and responsive Higher Education provision. The IPA is contributing keynote speakers and seminars to the 2012 AM conference on ‘Where technology meets creativity’.

From September, the IPA is developing a strategic partnership with University of Southampton; working with undergraduate and postgraduate students trialling new degree pathways, which combine analytics and creativity and fuse the disciplines of computer sciences and strategic marketing.

UKIE/IPA Schools programme

The IPA welcomed the February 2011 Livingstone-Hope Next Gen review of the skills needed for the UK’s video games and visual effects industries, which highlights that computer coding, the most important skill required to create the digital devices and software of the future, is not currently on the curriculum.

The IPA is joining the Next Gen Skills coalition, led by games and interactive entertainment trade body UKIE, with active support from Skillset, e-Skills and UK Screen, to foster changes to the school IT curriculum.

IPA apprenticeships

The IPA is working with Skillset to identify five media academies with which to develop apprenticeship partnerships in 2012.

The IPA is also acting as an apprenticeship hub for member agencies, and is promoting apprenticeships with: The National Apprenticeship Skills Council, on the recommendation of the GLA; Social Mobility Foundation; SEO London and Pearson in Practice.

Says Nicola Mendelsohn, IPA President and Executive Chairman, Karmarama: “We cannot afford to be left behind. Attracting the right mix of graduates and new talent is key to the growth of the ad industry in this fast changing digital marketplace, and for stimulating growth in the UK economy as a whole. With these programmes and partnerships we are now putting in place, such as working with top universities, fostering changes to the school curriculum and creating apprenticeship schemes, we can make this happen.”

Says Andy Fennell, Chief Marketing Officer, Diageo, who also delivered a speech at the event, echoing Nicola’s rallying cry to the industry to adapt to stay ahead: “The golden era for creative industries is ahead, not behind us, but if London agencies are to enjoy their fair share and not lose out to the emerging markets, immediate intervention is necessary. The talent in London is fantastic, but to capitalise on it we must learn to be bold, take risks, invest ahead and behave like challengers.”

Notes to editors:

In addition to the talent strategy, Mendelsohn is putting in place a further six programmes, as outlined in the report, as part of her Presidential agenda to on developing the right skills, talent and connections.  They are:

Better Skills:

BBC /IPA training in multiplatform technology

 The IPA is joining forces with the BBC Academy to launch a new training module designed to explore multi-platform interactive opportunities.

Facebook Studio Live

Facebook are launching their Studio Live event programme in the UK, and in advance of the event, the IPA is hosting a VIP dinner with Director of Engineering Andrew Bosworth from Facebook Palo Alto.

Better connections:

Connected UK

The IPA is joining forces with Pact, UKIE and BIMA, to launch an event series bringing together leading figures from the worlds of video gaming, TV programme production, digital interactive and brand communications. There will be a competition prize to encourage collaborative new ventures; and an independent academic audit of new learning to help shape business models of the future.

UKTI/IPA Interactive Mission to Silicon Valley and Hollywood

The IPA President is leading senior IPA members on an inspirational study tour of leading technology businesses. Facilitated by UKTI San Francisco and LA, member agencies will meet with Google, Facebook, Apple, Zynga and Warner Bros, among others.

IPA Trade Mission to Beijing and the China International Advertising Festival (CIAF)

The IPA President is leading a delegation of member agencies on a mission to Beijing and Shenyang. Facilitated by UKTI and the IPA, there will be meetings with Chinese brand owners and entrepreneurs; a retail safari; and networking events with Chinese agencies looking for UK partners.

The group will also be providing keynotes and hosting an exhibition and seminar at the CIAF; and signing a Memo of Understanding with the China Advertising Association (CAA).

Creative Industries Council

The IPA President is contributing sector policy perspectives to the Government’s new Creative Industries Council (CIC). The IPA is also an active member of the CIC Skillset Skills Group, charged with consultation and review of future needs in skills, training and career guidance between industry and education.

* Source: NESTA - High Impact Films are Key to Unlocking Growth in Creative Industries (2010), quoted in the Work Foundation: The Contribution of Advertising to the UK Economy (September 2011), commissioned by Credos.

Additional facts about the advertising industry’s contribution to the UK economy:

The UK advertising industry currently generates £7.8bn[1], is the fifth largest market in the world[2], and that together the UK’s creative industries generate 5.6% total UK GVA[3], and employ 1.3million people[3], but warns that despite this, it mustn’t rest on its laurels. There is considerable business volatility and intense competition from other markets, with the most recent advertising expenditure reforecast estimating only 1.8% growth in the UK this year compared to 2.8% in the US, 7.5% in Brazil and 12.2% in China[4].


1 - The Work Foundation

The Contribution of Advertising to the UK Economy (September 2011), commissioned by Credos

2 - Warc

Warc International Ad Forecast 2011/12 (July 2011), available

3 - DCMS
Creative Industries Economic Estimates (December 2010), available at

4- Warc

Warc News (August 2011)

Available at

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Ravensbourne is a world-class digital destination developing talented individuals and leading-edge businesses through learning, skills, applied research, enterprise and innovation. It is a university sector college innovating in digital media and design, with a vocationally focused portfolio of courses, spanning fashion, television and broadcasting, interactive product design, architecture and environment design, graphic design, animation, moving image, music production for media and sound design. It is a centre of excellence, industry accredited and a Skillset Media Academy.


The Institute of Practitioners in Advertising (IPA) is the trade body and professional institute for the UK’s leading advertising, media and marketing communications agencies. Established in 1917, the IPA exists to protect, promote and anticipate the needs of its member agencies and to negotiate on their behalf with unions, media bodies and government departments. 

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