As the world learned of the death of Queen Elizabeth II, several of the biggest names in U.K. advertising were gathered in a West London church, listening to a presentation about “great expectations” for the year ahead by MediaLink, the strategic advisory firm.
It should have been a celebratory occasion but the atmosphere was already strangely subdued, with many speculating about the health of the Queen before the event kicked off. One agency executive told Ad Age she had been emailing clients, including international companies, all afternoon, to warn them to be careful about campaign launches and messaging.
At 6:30 pm local time, MediaLink’s Managing Director, EMEA & Global Talent Advisory Kathleen Saxton, speaking on stage, received an alert and interrupted proceedings to inform the room of the passing of the monarch. There followed a minute’s silence.
The evening continued with four-minute speeches by several outside speakers, but there was a palpable sense of shock in the room as executives rushed to rethink campaigns, announcements and social media strategies. Several people left the room promptly. (Comedian Rob Mayhew was perhaps the only one to provide some light relief, quipping that he’d just had to “candle in the wind” his entire presentation.)