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UK advertisers react to Brexit

News, 29 June 2016

LONDON: As businesses around the world consider the implications of the decision by the majority of British voters to leave the European Union, leading agency executives have responded with a relatively upbeat message.

Several opinion polls and reports in the build up to the referendum confirmed that the majority of advertisers and marketers in the UK wanted to remain in the EU, but now that "Brexit" has happened, agency bosses are working out how best to get on the front foot.

Speaking to Campaign, a series of chief executives said that UK advertisers have to build on their global reputation for creativity while also showing the world that the UK is a dynamic and open economy.

"The impetus now is to redouble our efforts to be strategically and creatively the best in the world," said James Murphy, chief executive of Adam & Eve/DDB.

"The Swiss are universally considered to make the best watches in the world, without being part of the European Union. We can achieve the same reputation for creativity."

Sarah Golding, chief executive of CHI & Partners, compared Brexit to losing a pitch, but pointed to Cannes as an example of the global respect for the UK industry.

"Cannes shows our industry is genuinely globally respected, so let's change our horizons and become a global centre of excellence not just a gateway to Europe," she said.

Chris Hirst, European and UK CEO at Havas, said agencies needs to send two clear messages – that they remain "100% committed" to UK business and the creative hub of London, and also that each of their global employees are made aware of their "enormous contribution".

"I profoundly believe that our strength lies in our diversity and that will not change as a result of this referendum," he said.

Moray MacLennan, Worldwide CEO at M&C Saatchi, also sought to deliver a positive message, saying the UK needs to project itself as open and inviting country.

"Our view is that we need to make this look like it was the right decision when we look back in ten or 20 years' time; there's no other way to look at it," he said.

"So we need to adjust and adapt, and we're the sort of industry that will do that quickly. We need more energy and entrepreneurialism and we need to think of ourselves as a new, dynamic economy."

Data sourced from Campaign, Adweek, Decision Marketing; additional content by Warc staff