Ogilvy & Mather boss Paul O'Donnell says a UK exit from the European Union - a real possibility when voters weigh in this summer - would be bad for business, bad for advertising and send talent elsewhere.
That's a bit further than I can go - I don't own our business, after all, and I'd need to continue our discussions with clients and our people on the implications of a Brexit, but I share his concerns for our agency here and the wider PR industry.
Britain, and more specifically London, has long been the hub international PR for a few unique reasons:
- English as the mother tongue of business
- an abundance of creative, educated talent
- a globally friendly time zone
- heritage of innovative consultancies and agencies
- an alternative to New York
- a deeply ingrained international mind-set
It's also seen as a natural gateway for US (still the biggest global PR market) and Asian multinationals into Europe.
Now, would exiting the European Union jeopardise any these assets immediately? Probably not.
But it could raise uncertainty, at precisely the moment when other global centres are rising as alternatives for a new generation of creative talent and business innovation - Berlin, Hong Kong, Amsterdam or Sydney to name but a few.
There's enough risk in the world without us inventing it ourselves.
Speaking as part of a marketing industry referendum debate on The Drum’s Advertising Week Europe bus, O’Donnell said: “We’re sitting in the creative centre of the world. The talent that has been drawn to the EU and the flexibility we have within the confines of the EU structure means that this is the most flexible and creative powerhouse in Europe. I do believe, if we were to leave, that there are plenty of other places in Europe that would be net beneficiaries. There’s not one place talent would move to… but Berlin, Amsterdam, Paris would over time pick up business based on client needs and London as a centre would decline."