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RESET 2021 gives the ad industry a boost of positivity


Victoria Usher

Published On:

February 10, 2021

Published In:

Advertising & Marketing

RESET 2021 gives the ad industry a boost of positivity

The end of January witnessed a landmark moment in the UK advertising industry, with the Advertising Association, the IPA and ISBA joining forces for the first time in their collective histories to present a unique virtual conference – RESET 2021.

As the industry looks forward to a year of positive change, this collaboration is a reflection of the times – with all parties needing to work together to reshape advertising for the better and address the big challenges it faces. With a politics section looking at issues as diverse as food advertising bans and climate change, and a breadth of discussions around building back trust in advertising, the event certainly provided food for thought.

We asked members of the GingerMay team who attended the RESET 2021 conference to recap their highlights from some of the many worthwhile sessions they attended.

Session: The view from our minister

By Sarah Redman, Account Manager 

Oliver Dowden CBE, the UK Government’s Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, kicked off his session by paying tribute to the global advertising industry’s strength pre-Covid, from Super Bowl ads which reach $5.5 million per 30-second spot to the John Lewis Christmas ad becoming an event in its own right. It’s the raw power of advertising which impacts every part of our lives – how we look, what we eat and drink, how we vote and even how we behave in a global pandemic.

The past year was a tough one. Ad spend initially fell when the pandemic hit in early 2020, and the industry continued to wrestle with challenges – from brand safety to transparency and accountability – as well as “a fundamental imbalance between publishers, advertisers and the online platforms they rely on.” However, Dowden noted the advertising industry worked hard to address concerns, and to build a fair, accountable, and ethical industry that was able to harness its immense power and use it for the national good in the fight against Covid-19.

Dowden then looked to the future: “It’s time to reset and build back better for a stronger, more equitable, more resilient advertising sector.” Following the initial vaccine rollout, the industry can expect to be a significant part of the nation’s recovery. Dowden confirmed advertising will be pivotal in turbocharging the economy’s growth, with a tourism campaign to mark Britain being back open for business already on the horizon ahead of 2022 events.

Session: What does a HFSS ban mean for British business? 

By Alice Howey, PR Assistant

In this thought-provoking session from Kate Nicholls OBE, CEO of UK Hospitality and Stephen Woodford, CEO of the Advertising Association, we heard about the far-reaching and unintended consequences of the Government’s proposed HFSS advertising ban. The ban itself is part of efforts to tackle the UK obesity crisis, by introducing a 9pm watershed on ads for high fat, salt and sugar (HFSS) food and drink products, both online and on TV, by the end of 2022.

The discussion highlighted a disconnect between the Government’s proposed health agenda and the state of the hospitality industry. The consultation period of the ban crucially fell at a time when much of the industry was forced to close. In addition, during the pandemic many businesses have pivoted to online takeaway services, investing heavily in digital marketing and social media to connect with their customer base. More regulation on advertising is therefore predicted to have a detrimental effect on a sector full of SMEs, in an industry not projected to recover until 2024.

Kate stressed that the recovery of advertising is inextricably linked with the recovery of hospitality and, in extension, the whole supply chain and workforce it encompasses. In order to protect both of these industries without negatively impacting the Government’s wider health agenda, the session concluded there needs to be greater emphasis on public and private partnerships over the societal challenges we face.

Session: How digital advertising can help rebuild Britain’s creative economy 

By Liz Cassidy, Content Executive

Although national lockdowns have disrupted people’s lives, they haven’t dimmed their spark for creativity. In this session Ben McOwen Wilson, Managing Director of YouTube UK and Ireland, discussed how creators have turned online, particularly to online video, to find new ways of telling stories. According to Wilson, the media and advertising industry generated £3.8 billion at the height of lockdown, making it a significant contributor to the economy.

Digital advertising is key to supporting and diversifying this ongoing creativity, but the peak in online content creation – and consumption – has highlighted the necessity of addressing misinformation. Covid-19 tested YouTube’s content policies and placed greater expectation on media owners to protect users from non-authoritative and harmful content. Alongside this self-regulation, the UK Government has announced its new system of accountability and oversight with the Online Harms Bill, which will shape how media and technology companies approach digital content moving forward.

Session: The LEGO Brand: Driven by purpose

By Caroline Petvin, Content Manager

This enlightening discussion between Julia Goldin, Chief Marketing Officer at LEGO Group and Kathleen Saxton, Executive VP & MD EMEA at MediaLink, explored both Goldin’s personal career journey and the vital role the brand is playing at this exceptional time.

Born and raised in the Soviet Union, before moving to the United States, Goldin believes an innate “immigrant mentality” has given her the ability to thrive in the unknown and keeps her going in tricky situations. She was drawn to a career in brand and product development due to the cross-section of art and science, and has worked for Coca-Cola and Revlon as well as LEGO. She believes powerful brands have an important role to play in society and feels a responsibility to protect the legacy of a brand, while keeping it relevant and engaging for the time.

Goldin credits the success of LEGO partly to a deep understanding of what is happening in the lives of children, for instance appreciating the overlap between the physical and digital experiences. This understanding has translated into successful partnerships with other brands such as Super Mario and Star Wars. Another strength of LEGO is that everyone works as one team, with diversity not just in culture, gender and race, but also in experience. Engineers work with creatives and communicators to produce something truly special.

During the pandemic the brand had to act with agility to ensure safety in manufacturing sites as well as to protect innovation and keep the pipeline going, as LEGO products are used to entertain and inspire people. Let’s Build Together was a highly successful non-commercial campaign that helped give people something tangible to do that was relevant in the moment, such as building rainbows for the NHS.

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