Ad Week Europe in London delayed over coronavirus fears

Oscar Williams-Grut
Senior City Correspondent, Yahoo Finance UK
Natalie Bell, MD at Manning Gottlieb OMD, speaking during Advertising Week Europe 2016. (Eamonn M. McCormack/Getty Images for Advertising Week Europe)

One of the biggest events in the advertising industry has been postponed due to fears about the coronavirus.

Ad Week Europe was due to take place in London next week but will now be pushed back until September.

“Given the growing concerns over public health and safety due to the developing Coronavirus (COVID-19) situation, the team has proactively made arrangements to move the planned programme to Autumn 2020,” organisers wrote on the event’s website.

“We are grateful to our partners for their ongoing support in making this collaborative decision and look forward to welcoming all delegates in person in September.”

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Ad Week Europe draws thousands of attendees to central London each year. Keynote speakers this year included Facebook’s (FB) European chief Nicola Mendelsohn and Mark Read, the chief executive of ad giant WPP (WPP.L).

The decision to delay comes as 319 confirmed cases of COVID-19 have been recorded in the UK. Five Brits have died from the virus.

Ad Week Europe joins a growing list of events around the world that have either been cancelled or delayed due to COVID-19. Major industry events such as Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, the Geneva Motor Show, and SXSW in Texas have all been cancelled in recent weeks.

Separately on Tuesday, events company Informa (INF.L) said it is “facing a 2020 impact from COVID-19” as companies look to cancel or delay events. Chief executive Stephen A. Carter said Informa had set up a “Postponement Programme” to help clients shift events to later in the year, rather than cancel them altogether. 45 large events, worth around £350m in revenues, have already been delayed, along with 70 smaller events worth £50m.

Read more: The human and economic fallout of panic buying over the coronavirus

The Italian government on Tuesday put the entire country under lockdown in a bid to slow the spread of novel coronavirus. The move closes public places such as museums, schools, and public pools, and restricts internal travel to work, health, and emergencies.