Should Adland Care About The BBC?

The BBC is an organisation turning away from politics and public opinion following charter renewal according to James Purnell, Director of Radio and Education at the BBC. James shared the stage with Jon Wilkins, Executive Chairman of Karmarama and chair, Jez Nelson, CEO at Somethin’ Else for this session which questioned “should adland care about the BBC?”. With a more certain future, at least for the time being, the BBC can refocus on its audiences and being creative. This will be more necessary than ever given the market has been disrupted by Netflix, Amazon, et al., something which they acknowledged.

In an industry where the model of access is in the ascendency, the role of the BBC as curator and a bastion of truth is possibly never more needed. Counter to issues of fake news and salacious claims, the BBC offers trust and beyond our island nation, this is acknowledged possibly even more. It only takes a sideways glance across the pond at FOX News for this be reaffirmed. However, the BBC is under threat. Once one of the principle sources of creative talent in the UK, talent are having their heads turned by new platforms supposedly offering creative freedom and of course, cash. As a result, ad land should care about the BBC (just possibly a bias conclusion given the panel but one I’d agree with so we’ll let this echo chamber, echo on).

High profile talent such as Zane Lowe are maybe not as pioneering as we had first deemed them to be having moved to platforms where audiences are far less established and platform propositions can lack clarity.  Jon cutely condemning them as the creative industry’s equivalent of footballers moving to the Chinese Super League.  It would, of course, be naïve to believe that these new businesses don’t come with their own bureaucratic nuance that impinges on creative freedom; certainly Netflix is often open about its data led approach, that even underpins specific plot lines. As smart as this may be, it does feel a long way from creative freedom. Clearly, a balanced approach is needed. Equally, threat also comes from within as finding efficiencies will be an ongoing concern at the BBC but it is ultimately an environment of threat and some tension may, in fact, be just what is needed, and the hope is this will necessitate innovation and entrepreneurial spirit. Only time will tell.


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