Episode #1: The Pandemic Effects on the Advertising Industry

The Pandemic Effects on the Advertising Industry

The Covid-19 pandemic has altered the daily operations of nearly every workplace, and Europe’s advertising agencies have been no exception. Not only have work-from-home and hybrid schedules changed the nature of creative collaboration, but the digital space has also become more important as far as ad placement. In the eyes of many, these changes aren’t such a bad thing, but where the industry is struggling is in the area of the talent crisis exacerbated by the pandemic. This virus has permanently altered the European advertising industry, but will it turn out to be for the better or the worst?

Remote Work

As pointed out by Christian de la Villehuchet, CEO of Havas Belgium & Global Chief Integration Officer of Havas Group, the advertising industry, and the world as a whole, have had to “reinvent the office and what it means to work together”[1]. However, now that offices are beginning to open up again, it has become clear than many workers came to enjoy the increased flexibility that accompanies remote work. In fact, nearly two thirds of workers want teleworking to continue post-pandemic and EU institutions are even working on finalising their own remote work policies [2]. This reluctance to return to work in-person may impact how industries such as advertising and media move forward since workers have adapted to collaborating online. With more and more advertising being done digitally now, it makes a certain amount of sense for the creative process to take place in a digital space as well.

Digital Advertising

The proportion of digital to print advertising has also seen a dramatic shift since the onset of the pandemic in 2020; with people spending more time at home, it made sense for agencies to use sources that were easily accessible to consumers within their own houses or, more specifically, on their own screens. Social media and TV had already overtaken print and radio as dominant mediums for advertising and the pandemic only catalysed this process as advertisers adapted by simply “following consumers” and their pivot towards digital platforms [3]. This is a change in the industry that is likely here to stay due to the ever-growing prevalence of social media and other online platforms in everyday life. Between the increased use of digital platforms by consumers and the new virtual work environment for advertising agencies, the whole industry will take on a much larger online role and continue to move away from outdated print media practices.

Talent Crisis

The biggest problem that the pandemic has caused for the advertising agencies of Europe is the pervasive talent crisis.

Early on in the pandemic, businesses were forced to cut costs and, as Paul Blainsfair, Director General of the IPA, explains, in an advertising business, “the main cost line, it’s your people” which meant that many talented workers were let go back in 2020 [1]. Blainsfair went on to explain that most of those people have chosen not to return to the advertising sector which has resulted in a massive loss of industry talent across Europe. Filling this void will be the next great challenge for advertising agencies as a result of the pandemic and it will undoubtedly be a long-term project. Replacing that number of skilled workers takes time, but as the necessary skillsets to work in advertising evolve to suit the new virtual environment, the entire industry will be learning together.

Since the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020, the advertising industry has undergone several major changes. The move to a virtual or hybrid work environment has altered the creative and collaborative nature of agencies’ daily operations. Additionally, digital mediums have further increased their dominance since consumers have been spending more time online due to confinement regulations. This has resulted in an overall digitalisation effect across the industry as covid dramatically sped up the process of moving to digital mediums in a virtual workspace. Finally, a talent vacuum has been created by the need to cut costs early in the pandemic and this talent has proven difficult to replace. However, these changes were inevitable as the industry evolved along with technology, the pandemic merely catalysed and intensified the processes. As the world continues learning to live with the pandemic and adjusting to the “new normal,” Europe’s advertising industry will do the same, overcoming these unprecedented challenges and consistently adapting.

Find out more in the first episode of Advertising Europe:


  1. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6gG5MoZt3h0https://www.euronews.com/2021/07/29/a-majority-want-working-from-home-to-continue-new-survey-finds
  2. https://www.euronews.com/2021/07/29/a-majority-want-working-from-home-to-continue-new-survey-finds
  3. https://www.euronews.com/2021/07/29/a-majority-want-working-from-home-to-continue-new-survey-finds

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