Julian Douglas’ IPA agenda: stop dwelling on the same old problems and accelerate change

VCCP vice chairman Julian Douglas is the new IPA president, and his agenda — which comes complete with its own logo — is about accelerating change in three categories: the industry, society, and tech.

Speaking from the Manchester’s Science and Industry Museum, Douglas said: “It feels to me that we’ve have been talking about the same things and diagnosing the same problems for at least the last decade, focused on the diminishing role of advertising as an industry.”

In the pre-recorded address (followed by a live Q&A), he even said that his father is finally taking his job seriously now that he is president of the IPA.

Moving to a more upbeat note, Douglas said: “What if we were to harness the positives to apply a multiplier effect to how we tackle the perennial problems advertising and society more broadly face? What if we were to make incrementalism our enemy and resolve instead to move 10 x sooner, 10 x bigger, 10 x bolder?”

The idea is to get advertising out of the slump that has descended on the industry thanks to waning relevance, shrinking budgets, fewer retainers, short-termism, in-housing, consultancies, and tech platforms.

Referring to the effects of the pandemic, Douglas said: “Nobody wants to revert to the world of 2019. Disruption and uncertainty can be very painful but they open windows as well as close doors. Advertising is ready to fulfil much bigger ambitions than just survival. We have the data, the technology, the pure creative firepower to change the world and our place in it.”

For the Industry 10x, Douglas wants to launch an effectiveness accreditation programme, to promote the IPA’s MBA Essentials course, and to challenge agencies on diversity and inclusion.

In Society 10x, he proposes a think tank working with Ogilvy vice chairman Rory Sutherland to share advertising’s brightest thinking.

The Tech 10x is about growing partnerships with gaming companies, partnering with Facebook on augmented reality, leading a trade mission to India in 2022, and making the most of the opportunities presented by COP26 in Glasgow later this year and the Common Wealth Games in Birmingham next year.

Mancunian Douglas (known to many as Dougie) is a popular leader and has a good pedigree for the IPA challenge. He led VCCP’s expansion into Asia, and previously worked at WCRS, BBH, TBWA and Grey London. He was a co-founder with Martha Lane Fox of the Lucy Voice karaoke chain and is chair of BIMA (Black Representation in Marketing).

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