London should host IAA event

This week the IAA is meeting to decide where the Millennium World Advertising Congress should be held. John Shannon believes London is the industry’s most appropriate host

On June 4 the worldwide board of directors of the International Advertising Association will meet in Amsterdam to vote on an issue of considerable importance to Europe’s advertising industry.

After considering presentations from three regions, it will decide where to hold the IAA’s Millennium World Advertising Congress. The three shortlisted cities are London, representing Europe, New York for North America and Tel Aviv for the Middle East.

Host city selection for an advertising conference is not usually the sort of issue to provoke strong feelings. But in this case the final choice will be of genuine significance to the international advertising community. Inevitably, the winning city will become the focus of global attention at a crucially important time in the development of the global communications industry. It is therefore of paramount importance that host city selection is guided by the central need to pick the region best placed to highlight the key challenges that will affect our industry into the next millennium.

There are many minor issues that one might expect the IAA’s directors to consider when reaching their decision. They will want to select a location that appeals to a global audience so that the conference is representative of the international advertising community. They will also consider issues such as transportation, accommodation, available conference facilities and time-zones.

But the most important question they will have to ask themselves is which region offers an advertising environment that will provide the greatest insight into what the future holds for the international advertising community.

By this criterion, there can be little doubt that Europe offers the most compelling case for hosting IAA 2000. In representing the European bid, London remains pre-eminent as a centre for co-ordinating international campaigns and London’s advertising industry is booming in terms of creativity.

London is ahead of the rest of the world as a centre for media planning technology and in strategic media planning across markets. Led by the Scandinavian countries, Europe is also at the forefront of the new media revolution.

More broadly, Europe’s advertising industry is going through a period of great change.

Notably, the issues raised by changing political and economic conditions in Western Europe and the development of emerging markets in Central and Eastern regions provide valuable insights into the changes that lie ahead for international advertisers.

For these reasons, London offers a number of important advantages over the rival bids if the aim of the Millennium Congress is to highlight the major international communications issues of the future.

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