Björn Jónsson, Pipar\TBWA: “It is a good time to visit Iceland”

WHATS UP? Björn Jónsson, who is Creative Director and Partner at Pipar\TBWA and also one of the Balticbest 2020 jury members, spoke about Icelandic advertising industry, agencies and economy.
How did the pandemic affect Icelandic advertising industry?
For about 2 months we worked from home, the government regulations allowed only 10 people to work in the same office. So we worked from home and later in two shifts – half of the people were in office one week and the other half the next week. But now it’s back to normal again.
Our government covered 50% of our salaries, up to 3750 euros. The drop in our agency revenue was approx 30-40%, but now the business is slowly picking up.
We took a decision not to fire anybody and if the business will not improve soon, we would rather switch to a 4-day working week.
How is Icelandic economy doing?
The tourists are slowly coming back. We had 2.2 million tourists last year, this is a really important part of the economy.
We are estimating that this August the tourism revenue will be approx 30% of what used to be last year.
But the government promotes domestic tourism and offers vouchers of 30 euros to each citizen to spend in Iceland locally in hotels and restaurants.
That has created a need for place branding, our agency also works on such projects.
For the foreigners, it’s a good time to visit Iceland – we have less tourists and lower prices!
Where do you see the potential for growth for Icelandic agencies?
Iceland is a really small market, we have just 364,000 people living here.
We have some big companies, like insurance firms and banks, and 5 bigger advertising agencies are competing for them.
Since we are in the TBWA network, we try to find some clients from Europe as well. Right now I am working on a pitch for one European institution. Our problem is that the exchange rate of Icelandic krona is not very favourable, it makes our services too expensive for the European market. So it is very difficult to grow as a business.
Balticbest, a marketing and advertising competition for small European countries, is open for entries! The 7th edition of Balticbest is unlike the previous ones – Balticbest 2020 takes place ONLINE in the format of a LIVE SHOW.