Brands must be creative and optimistic to fuel economic growth

Brands must be creative when developing business strategy and provide hope to consumers struggling with rising bills to play their part in fuelling the UK’s economic recovery, according to business leaders.

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Speaking at The Times panel debate on the UK economy today (3 November) Mike Lynch the CEO of IT firm Autonomy, called on advertisers to think differently about business and campaigns.

“We’re seeing a massive change in the volatility of lives and business. We’ve got to embrace change – our thinking has to change … and we have to make sure that companies are looking at growth in a creative way,” he says.

“You have to be prepared to make changes to your business towards where the growth is. The problem with some businesses is that there is an inability to accept that there is a need to change what they set out to do.”

He added that because the way consumers spend time is changing, the minutes in the day are more valuable and so advertisers must realise that “having someone’s attention is something you have to monetise.”

Allan Leighton, former CEO of Wal-Mart Europe, called on the government to reduce VAT to give an immediate boost to consumer confidence because, he claims, the UK’s economic recovery will be consumer driven.

“It’s about confidence – you can have an austerity plan, but you’ve got to have some hope [to give consumers confidence] but at the moment no one is giving any – we’re focussing on the political piece.”

He added that raising VAT last January may have raised the government £12bn, but it “probably cost around £100bn in retail sales”.

Lynch and Leighton were joined by Karen Blackett, CEO of MediaCom UK, Ian King, business and city editor at The Times and The Sunday Times business editor Dominic O’Connell.

Last week, Robert Senior CEO of the Saatchi & Saatchi Fallon Group claimed it is marketers “moral obligation” to be optimistic as an antidote to the gloomy economy.

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