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In these post-credit crunch days we seem to have lost the habit of talking about the UK’s competitive advantages. In the introduction to this year’s Chime Annual Report and Accounts, I’d like to buck the trend.
This is a very strong set of results, which builds on the similarly strong set of results that we delivered last year. Our public relations and sports marketing divisions have delivered strong performances, with strong organic growth in both revenue and profitability; in advertising, strong growth in revenue has supported major investment ensuring that we will remain at the forefront of delivering truly integrated advertising communications in the UK; new management has transformed the performance of our research division and allowed this to make a contribution again to Group profits this year.
Our success has been rooted in the coming of age of reputation management, now a bona-fide descriptor for any discussion of marketing and communications, but a term and an idea that we have been building our strategy around for far longer – since the start of the Millennium, as regular readers of this Report will be aware. Investing in expertise and integration now allows us to manage reputations across platforms and disciplines in a manner that few others can match. We are feeling the benefits in the UK, but also in other markets: over 50% of Chime’s revenues now come from overseas markets.
The headline events of 2010 have fed the global demand for reputation management: BP put it on the agenda of every major corporate, at every significant meeting by demonstrating that the only alternative to managing issues in advance, is to manage them in crisis. Wikileaks detonated shockwaves across the US and around the world, although noticeably to a far lesser extent in the UK.
This difference is significant: the UK enjoys (or suffers, depending on your viewpoint) the most tooth-endowed and competitive media marketplace in the world, boasting fully 11 national newspapers to the USA’s zero, and with a tradition of free speech and tolerance of tabloid media that is matched in few other places. In this environment, the sudden loss of control over government secrets and politicians’ reputations is certainly less shocking than elsewhere. In the UK, companies and individuals were scrutinised in uncomfortable detail long before the advent of the internet age. As a result the public relations and communications skills that we have developed are able to adjust far more rapidly to the communications challenges that the age of ultra-transparency presents. Facebook has proven tailor-made to the UK’s media habits; dealing with social media and its impact has proven tailor-made for our communications skills.
This is far from the only area in which the UK enjoys a significant competitive advantage. In an increasingly fragmented global media landscape, sports marketing provides one of the few truly international broadcast channels, with the Barclays Premiership alone reaching just under half of the world’s population. We are in the fortunate position that Britain has created eight of the world’s 10 most valuable sports. We may no longer win at all of them; but our expertise at utilising, commercialising and selling them is second to none. Chime’s Sports Marketing Group (CSM) sold more cricketers to the Indian Premier League this season than any other agency. With globally recognised expertise, the award of the Olympic games to Brazil in 2016, or of the FIFA World Cup to Qatar, represents as much an opportunity as the Olympics of 2012 in London.
The export of world-leading skills in the disciplines that the world has an increased appetite for, have underpinned our growth this year. They are not restricted to reputation management and sports – VCCP has delivered revenue growth partly through the export of integrated communications to Europe, for example – but these are the areas where our competitive advantage is most apparent.
It takes strategic expertise and investment to take advantage of these opportunities. The careful investments that we have made in high-quality people for our public relations, research, sports marketing and advertising divisions have already borne considerable fruit over the past year. We will continue to invest appropriately in people and technology, to ensure that we represent our competitive advantages to the greatest possible extent in the global marketplace.
Chime Reputation Leaflet (PDF, 52Kb)
| Christopher Satterthwaite
| Kevin Murray
Chairman, Bell Pottinger Group
| Andrew Wilson
MD, Corporate Citizenship
| Sue Farr
Business Development, Chime
| Charles Vallance
VCCP, Founding Partners