Minister hails Lions haul as spending cuts row grows

Twitter Trade MissionJust days after it was revealed the Government wants companies to divert their marketing spend into price cuts, the minister for exports Mike Freer has praised UK advertising and marketing companies for their Cannes Lions awards haul, which made Britain Europe’s top performing country.

With a total of 85 gongs, the UK remains in the top three most awarded countries in the world, the second highest performance behind the US, next followed by Brazil.

Freer MP said: “UK businesses lead the way in unleashing creativity, innovation and tech to deliver impact and results for global brands – as demonstrated in Cannes last week.

“It’s fantastic to see the UK in the top three global award-winners – a superb achievement showing the country has maintained its creative excellence despite the challenges of the pandemic. DIT and the Advertising Association are working hard to ensure the world’s best advertising and marketing professionals see our thriving creative industries are open for business.”

To complement the festival’s activities, over 41 UK advertising companies took part in a trade mission in Cannes, led by the UK Advertising Exports Group (UKAEG) and Department for International Trade (DIT).

The UK’s biggest trade mission to date saw an extensive programme of events, including a roundtable featuring senior leaders from brands such as McDonald’s, Mars, United Airlines, Diageo, Dole, Essity and the NFL meet with UKAEG companies. The programme also included Creativity Rocks, a global gathering which featured up-and-coming UK band Ferris & Sylvester, who also performed at Glastonbury last weekend.

To celebrate great creativity and global growth, an industry coalition led by the Advertising Association spearheaded a new campaign for the festival with support from DIT and industry partners including APA, Clear Channel, Channel 4, Framestore, M&C Saatchi, Pinterest, and PwC.

Advertising Association international trade director Aisling Conlon said: “Our first in-person trade mission for the UK Advertising Exports Group at Cannes Lions has been a huge success, and as UK representatives we are immensely proud of retaining our position within the top three award-winners in the world.

“For any business looking to sell British creativity and advertising services around the world, this trade mission has strengthened the values the UK brings to unlock new markets. We look forward to building on the great partnerships we have created with Government, industry partners, trade mission companies and colleagues around the world.”

Even so, criticism is mounting over the Government’s plans to urge firms to cut back on marketing spend in favour of price cuts, bizarrely by launching its own marketing campaign to promote it.

Many cite a 2019 Bain study on the 2008 recession which found companies that continued to invest in marketing saw compound growth of 17% compared to the firms that cut their marketing budget and whose growth remained static.

Mediavision managing partner Adam Freeman said: “Our industry could be forgiven for thinking it had successfully demonstrated the merits of maintaining marketing spend during an economic downturn.

“In the 2008/9 financial crash, many large businesses refrained from slashing marketing budgets because they’d learnt the hard way that building back brand equity is a hard slog. Only the most short-sighted of businesses now view spending on marketing as a cost, not an investment.

“Admittedly details are still sketchy on the Government’s plans but there are so many ironies and contradictions. An ad campaign (indeed a marketing activity) that is encouraging businesses to divert marketing budgets into price cuts and wear this as a badge of honour…..really?”

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