IPA Bellwether report Q2 2021: Feeling optimistic about brand growth

By Micah Crook,

Amid the upheavals of the past 18 months, it’s been natural to fix our perspective on the horizon and look for better times to arrive. And in recent weeks, new signs of a marketing rebound hinging on brand growth are well into view. All of a sudden the horizon is here.

At a moment where everything is suddenly all to play for. what’s changed in the marketing game?  What’s exciting? What’s effective? And where can agencies add value for the brands building the world we want to see?

IPA Bellwether’s latest Bellwether report

According to the IPA’s Bellwether data for Q2 2021, UK marketing budgets seem to have turned a corner. Brands are revising their marketing spends upwards in preparation for an expected economic resurgence and brand growth.

A net balance of 6% of the companies surveyed by IPA had expanded their total marketing budgets recently. With 21.2% of respondents reporting growth compared to 15.2% registering a decline. This was the first time since the end of 2019 that total marketing expenditure had been revised upwards.

Observing the findings further, of the three categories that saw an upsurge in expenditure. PR contributed strongest, with a net balance of 1.8% of companies increasing their budgets. (A big swing up from -8% from the previous quarter.)

Next came mainstream media with 1.3% reporting a rise in spend (compared to -8.2% in Q1). Specifically, online grew by 11%, video by 4.2% and audio by 1.1%. 

The report also estimated a 7.5% growth in overall ad spend in 2021, with a further 6% to come in 2022.

Bouncing back?

Things are looking up for marketers and this has been reflected in the mood of panel members surveyed. +45.9% of respondents were more optimistic about their company’s financial prospects compared to three months ago.

Whilst this is partly a change in morale, prompted by the government’s decision to ease restrictions almost completely this week. There was significant anxiety around ‘Freedom Day’ – and this mood was anticipated in the report.

Many in AdLand are still erring on the side of caution, with  +11.4%still signalling pessimism. The overall net balance of +34.6% indicated a strong overall level of confidence, the second-highest reading since the first quarter of 2015.

The COVID-19 Delta variant presents something of a curveball for the post-pandemic recovery. In a recent note entitled ‘A ‘V’;-shaped recovery this is not’, Bank of America raised doubts of its ability to reach its 3% Q-on-Q growth target.

Globally, a ‘Y’-shaped recovery looks likely, with the economy splitting into those sectors structurally positioned to take advantage of the recent and ongoing economic shifts – and those left behind.

Responsible optimism

As a member of the IPA, our understanding resonates with the Bellwether report’s findings, which chime with what we are hearing from clients keen to pursue brand-led growth campaigns.

Anything is Possible have been well positioned to grow throughout the chaos of the last 18 months. We’ve invested in people, skills and tech and adjusted our clients’ efforts to suit the needs of a consumer base confined to unprecedented times.

This trend is likely to inform the shape and type of marketing investment predicted by the IPA. So in our next blog we’ll be looking at why certain sectors are better positioned to benefit from ‘long-COVID’ economic effects –

And why brand growth is an essential activity for growth in these conditions.

Get in touch and ask us how it’s done.