UK ad industry meets at RESET 2021

The first-ever joint industry conference by UK’s advertising trade associations focuses on economic recovery, the impact of Covid-19 and public trust in advertising

The Advertising Association (AA), the Institute of Practitioners in Advertising (IPA) and the Incorporated Society of British Advertisers (ISBA) joined forces on Thursday to organise RESET 2021, the first joint industry conference for UK advertising. The conference focused on what the industry can do to support UK’s social and economic recovery, mitigate the impact of the pandemic, and ameliorate the public’s perception of advertising.

The event began with remarks from Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Oliver Dowden CBE, who praised advertising’s contribution to culture, the economy, and public health efforts during the pandemic, and touched upon issues in the government’s agenda that are of interest to the industry, including a new code of conduct for tech giants currently in the works. This was followed by a discussion on the government’s HFSS ban, set to be introduced by the end of 2022, by CEO of UKHospitality Kate Nicholls OBE and AA CEO Stephen Woodford. Ms Nicholls stressed the fact that the hospitality sector was already “devastated” as a result of the pandemic and the “ban does not address the root cause of the problem, which is education.”

One of the major topics of discussion in the event was diversity. Peter Duffy, President of ISBA and Chief Executive of Moneysupermarket, emphasised the importance of action, stating that this year has to be the year of change. Mel Edwards, Global CEO of Wunderman Thompson, in her hopeful keynote speech touched upon the value of diversity, in people, process and product.

Another issue that was top of the agenda was misinformation. Ben McOwen Wilson, the Managing Director of YouTube UK and Ireland, commented that the issue was “complex” and could not be left to individual players. Nigel Vaz, IPA President and Global CEO of Publicis Sapient, invited the industry to find a more comprehensive solution to misinformation and disinformation, rather than “platform-specific” solutions.

The event ended on a positive note, with LEGO Group CMO Julia Goldin stressing the importance of taking a break, “resetting”, if you will, reminding the audience that “resilience is not always about pushing through the difficulties.”