New IPA president warns advertisers they must start behaving ‘like a proper business’

The advertising industry is at risk of becoming “a commodity-based supply system” unless it starts to fight back by behaving “like a proper business” warned the new president of the Institute of Practitioners in Advertising, David Pattison, in his inaugural address to members yesterday (Tuesday).

“Our biggest single problem is that we are not taken seriously – we are viewed as a bit of a game,” he added. “Our business is under pressure, is losing its position in the business hierarchy, is not being properly rewarded or respected, has lost its confidence and is not valued by clients.”

Pattison, worldwide chief executive of PHD, urged agencies to make a stand, defending margins by improving when it comes to negotiations and saying “no” more often to the practice of taking on pieces of business as a “loss leader”. In addition, he appealed to agencies to adopt a more financially transparent approach to doing business, although he warned them to guard against clients using this to “further screw us down”. He also said agencies should start talking the language of business, chief executives and procurement departments, rather than just the marketing department. And finally he urged them to become advocates for advertising.

“We need to start talking about why advertising as a whole is right for clients,” said Pattison. “We are so obsessed with slicing up the cake that we never think to make sure that the cake itself is in great shape.”

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