It seems Sir Martin Sorrell’s Brexit freak-out might have been a little over the top, with new research revealing that the ad budgets of British companies has reached its highest level in more than two years.
According to the latest Bellwether Report commissioned by the UK’s Institute of Practitioners in Advertising (IPA), the forecast for growth in ad spend has been revised up to 1.9 per cent for 2016, from the previous forecast of a 0.2 per cent decline.
The previous report predicted that companies would ease up on ad spend due to uncertainty created by Britain’s vote to leave the European Union, and it was not alone in sharing this view, with WPP boss Sir Martin Sorrell saying the Brexit result had left him “very disappointed”.
The latest Bellwether Report also revealed a net balance of 13.4 per cent of companies registering an increase to their budgets during the third quarter of 2016 – up from 10.7 per cent on the previous quarter, and marking a fourth year of successive positive revisions.
However, the report predicts that 2017 is set to be a more challenging year, with ad spend expected to decline by 0.7 per cent as business investment is pared back in line with the uncertainty over the negotiated terms of the UK withdrawal from the EU.
But there is light at the end of the tunnel, with ad spend set to show modest signs of recovery in 2018. The report predicts growth of 0.2 per cent, followed by a return to more solid expansion in 2019 (2.4 per cent) and 2020 (2.7 per cent).
IPA’s director general, Paul Bainsfair, said that with budgets revised up to their highest degree in over two years, “we can say marketers have held their nerve in the face of Brexit uncertainty”.
“As the negotiated terms of UK withdrawal from the EU will become clearer in 2017, Bellwether predicts a more challenging year,” he said.
“We are certainly living through interesting times.”