Call to support freelancers, ‘the lifeblood of the sector’

freelance2The advertising and marketing industry has issued a rallying cry for the sector to support freelance workers – from creatives and designers to runners and directors – in order to help protect jobs and the wider economy during the coronavirus outbreak.

According to the Creative Industry Council, advertising contributes £120bn to the UK economy, and while Government statistics show there are nearly 500,000 advertising and marketing jobs in the UK, a substantial number are self-employed or freelancers.

As the virus continues to spread and offices begin to close, there have been growing concerns that brands will start to cut back adspend. However, the Advertising Production Association and the Advertising Association point to significant research which shows brands who spend more in a crisis see the best return on their investment.

The economic importance is clear, but there are further implications specific to the production sector, the APA says.

Many of the people working on productions, from runners to set designers and even directors are self-employed. The cancelling or delay of advertising productions will hit these people with significant cashflow problems.

The APA, which describes freelancers as “the lifeblood of the industry”, said: “Now is the time for brands, agencies and production companies to work as closely as possible in order to prepare for when business picks up again.

“Creative development, pitching, bidding jobs, effectively getting everything prepared for such time as when everyone feels comfortable to be in production can continue during this time. It means we can hit the ground running when the opportunity arises and continue to provide employment for as many people as possible.

“There is no legitimate reason for this not to be the case. Technology means the workforce is more dispersed than ever. Remote working is a norm for many in our industry, which will help limit the impact office closures and travel restrictions could cause. Productions may stop, but it does not have to mean planning, preparing and still working hard must cease as well.”

Advertising Association chief executive Stephen Woodford commented: “We know from years of research that advertising is a proven engine of the economy, particularly so, during times of a downturn. Those businesses that invest in their brands during this period of uncertainty, making sure they remain visible to their customers through advertising, will emerge strongest.

“Our world-class advertising sector, with its unique combination of creative, strategic and production capabilities, is ready to provide all the support that UK and international brands need.”

APA Council member Jani Guest, who is managing director of Independent Films, added: “Our job of providing content for brands is a cumulation of work carried out over a period of weeks, all of which is done remotely, prior to shooting on location or in studio. We have the technology to ensure that suspended productions can be re-mounted with minimal disruption.

“Our production companies and their teams want and need to continue to work regardless of whether they are based out of an office or their home. That is why we feel it is important to communicate to advertisers that we are more than willing to work with them, through what is a challenging time for all of us. Brands will benefit both through their return on investment as well as helping maintain a healthy, world leading production industry.”

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