GWA: A political start to the year

At its first ever New Year's reception, the GWA spared no industry oratory, but made its members all the more politically aware.

Diskussion über Agentur-Nachwuchs: GWA-Regionalvorstand Jan-Philipp Jahn (McCann Germany), Aissu Pentzien (Butter.) und Isabelle Rogat (Thjnk)Bilder: zVg. GWA.
Discussion about new agency talent: GWA regional board member Jan-Philipp Jahn (McCann Germany), Aissu Pentzien (Butter.) and Isabelle Rogat (Thjnk). (Pictures: zVg. GWA)

Premiere for the leading German agency association GWA! The traditional summer party in Berlin was supplemented by a New Year's reception for the first time at the end of January - not in the federal capital, however, but in one of the country's "advertising capitals": 250 industry representatives, heads from the media and companies gathered in Hamburg (despite the rail strike and some stormy gusts) to look ahead to the coming months, review 2023 - and network over lunch.


Top location with top players

The relevant statistics show that Hamburg was an excellent choice of venue: Today, the Hanseatic city is one of the top locations for the agency and creative industries in Germany. This development only began in the 1980s with the establishment of several well-known agencies such as Scholz & Friends, Springer & Jacoby and Jung von Matt. Today, eight of the "Top 10 owner-managed agencies" in Germany have their headquarters in Hamburg. Almost 1000 agencies based in Hamburg employed 13,440 people in 2022 and generated around 2.3 billion euros in 2021. In addition to the agencies, numerous media companies, film productions and tech companies are also part of the creative industry, generating a total turnover of around 12.2 billion euros.

"We have to take countermeasures here! We agencies also need to become more active!"

Politics "sees" the advertising industry

The fact that this has also reached the upper echelons of politics was underlined by Hamburg's Senator for Culture and Media, Dr. Carsten Brosda, in a free, rhetorically powerful speech: For quotes such as, "This is where creative, progressive and attention-grabbing campaigns are created. The creative industries are the engine of innovation and progress. In its creativity lies the potential to spark new ideas, break through boundaries and shape the future", Brosda earned applause. However, his call for clients and agencies to stand up for the protection of democratic society across the board was even better received. "The media and politics cannot do this alone," said the senator with conviction, "and that's why we need all of you; everyone here today and the colleagues you work with." Some of the applause turned into cheers and bravos, probably also against the backdrop of the impressive protests against right-wing extremism that had taken place in Hamburg shortly beforehand.

Hamburgs Kultur- und Mediensenator Dr. Carsten Brosda
Hamburg's Senator for Culture and Media Dr. Carsten Brosda.

Larissa Pohl: "Massive countermeasures"

GWA President Larissa Pohl also struck the right note by only marginally addressing predictions and industry oracles (" [...] there is reason for a certain optimism [...]: after all, relevant studies are forecasting a growing advertising market for Germany, albeit a weak one."). They are much more moved by "the irritating, even worrying news and events we have had to deal with this year alone", explained Pohl. Populist opinion-making, targeted disinformation and a dramatic decline in interest in news - coupled with dwindling media literacy - are being exploited by the relevant players to manipulate people in a targeted manner. The GWA President made it clear: "We need to take massive countermeasures here! We agencies also need to become more active." The association therefore supports the #UseTheNews initiative, which is about to be launched throughout the DACH region and is intended to show the younger target group in particular how important seriously researched and fact-based news is for forming opinions.

Verbandspräsidentin Larissa Pohl
Association President Larissa Pohl.

Finale: The young talent discussion

To stay with the younger target group: Because the agency world is also struggling with "talent sourcing", a lively discussion on "Agencies as career springboards" rounded off the program. GWA regional board member Jan-Philipp Jahn (McCann Germany), Aissu Pentzien (Butter.) and Isabelle Rogat (Thjnk) discussed how "young talent" can be inspired for the industry and promoted within it.

"We'll do it again"

In the end, there was a consensus: there must be another event like this in 2025 - perhaps even in Hamburg? Scholz & Friends CEO and "landlord" of the event location FM Schmidt offered his premises "with pleasure".

The German Association of Communications Agencies (GWA) was founded in 1952 as the German Association of Advertising Agencies and has had its current name since 2002. The GWA speaks for the agency sector to business, politics and the public. The approximately 150 members are among the leading communications agencies in Germany.

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