Brexit: Blitz or Bug, there’s a capital idea for advertisers

This is a piece I wrote whilst working on a contract as the Interim Head of Audience and Insight at ESI Media.  I wrote it to suggest an angle for a piece written by ESI Commercial’s Managing Director, Jon O’Donnell.  Jon is a creative character who enjoyed stamping his own character on it and embellishing it by linking it to a recent ESI event.  You can read his splendid version here.  In the meantime, here’s mine.

Britain 1939.  Fear. And then Britain basked in sunshine for months before the bombs rained down.

The World 1999.  Fear. And then over the first few minutes, then hours, then days of the year 2000 the Millennium Bug turned from feared monster to laughing stock.  It didn’t show.

Right now economists and advertisers alike are searching the skies for any evidence of Brexit fallout.

The signs are contradictory.  Permanent hiring has dropped but so have unemployment benefit claims.

Business confidence and business activity has fallen but, after a poor August, there are signs of recovery.

Consumer price inflation remains low and retail sales have risen but consumer confidence has dropped.  But now it is creeping back up.

What can you be sure of?

Something you can be sure of is the resilience of London and Londoners.  Bearing in mind London contains more Remainers than Brexiteers this resilience is a sort of Blitz spirit.  They are prepared for turbulence but remain confident.

Londoners typically show more consumer confidence than UK consumers in general.  The respected GfK Consumer Confidence barometer shows this to be still true, even after the Brexit vote.  The latest figures (August) show London to be the first region to climb out of the negative confidence zone.

In fact, London’s full time workers never went into the negative consumer confidence zone, unlike the nation’s full time workers overall.

Advertisers might take heed of confidence in London and concentrate more spend on Londoners.

After all, there is a high level of physical availability of goods in London but Londoners, amidst all that choice, often just need reminding of your brand.

London accounts for more retail spend than Scotland, Wales & Northern Ireland combined (Mintel).

Londoners are more likely to spend without thinking and have expensive tastes. They are more likely to pay more for goods and services that make their busy lives easier. They are more likely to agree that advertising helps them to choose what to buy and, surprisingly, they feel less bombarded by advertising than the rest of the country. (TGI)

London’s workers are more likely than the average British worker to shop for clothes and eat and drink on their way home from work.  They are more likely to stop off at a cinema or theatre (ESI research)

They are also more likely to shop online on their commute too.  Londoners account for two-thirds of all mCommerce spend when commuting (Centre for Economics and Business research).

Brexit hasn’t changed London’s role as a national and global powerhouse yet.  It probably never will.  London’s consumers won’t cease to power the spending and confidence of the nation either.

The Brexit bombs might start dropping soon or, like the Millennium Bug, the bogeyman might never appear.

Whatever happens, advertising to Londoners is a capital idea.

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