Stephen Woodford, CEO of the Advertising Association, has today provided evidence to the House of Lords Communications Committee, which has launched a new inquiry into the future of the advertising industry.

Setting the scene at the start of the session, Woodford outlined a number of important areas in which Government could add to the industry’s own efforts to maintain the UK’s position as a world leader in advertising.  He also reiterated the importance of the sector to the UK domestically: it generates more than £120 billion in economic activity and supports 1 million jobs.

The areas in which the AA believes the Government can help most to support and nurture a successful future for the sector include:

  • Ensuring continued access to the best talent
  • Promoting the UK and London as a global advertising hub
  • Using the UK’s strength in advertising to boost growth through a new tax credit for SMEs who invest in advertising campaigns to grow their businesses and brands, which could be part of relevant Sector Deals within the Government’s Industrial Strategy
  • Addressing important trade matters affecting our industry as part of the Government’s approach to Brexit, such as data and privacy regulations.

The Committee has said it is seeking evidence on the following topics in particular:

  • The skillsets and development of skills needed to sustain the industry.
  • The UK’s access to international talent.
  • Whether creative and business clusters contribute to the industry’s success and, if so, whether there is a role for the Government in supporting this.
  • How the industry can adapt in the face of increasing digital advertising.

Speaking at the start of session, Stephen Woodford, CEO of the Advertising Association said:

 “Advertising in the UK is a major contributor to economic growth. Advertising Association research has shown that, domestically, the industry generates more than £120 billion in economic activity in the UK and supports 1 million jobs.

“In the global context, the UK is a leader in world advertising. The sector generates £4.3bn in annual exports and this is growing at twice the rate of the UK’s general exports. We attract many of the world’s best people in our sector to work and live here.  That in turn means that we can create the world’s best advertising – this is consistently recognised on the world stage.

“We are at a pivotal time in the evolution of the industry:

  • As a result of the changing landscape for business and talent that Brexit brings
  • As a result of changes in the ways that consumers use media and the rise in digital
  • As a result of the new skills that are needed within our industry, particularly through the emergence of new advertising technologies
  • As a result of increasing competition from other world cities who are keen to challenge us as a world-leading centre for advertising (in Europe, Amsterdam, Paris and Berlin are examples)

“As an industry we are working together to address these issues in every way that we can.  One of the roles of the Advertising Association is to help all parts of the industry – we are the only body representing the entire industry: advertisers, the commercial media, agencies and the entire supply chain (production companies, research businesses etc).

“There are, however, clear areas in which Government can help.  Specifically, we see these to be:

  1. Ensuring our continued access to the best talent – whether domestic or international. This includes ensuring that: the best people from other countries can easily come to the UK to work in our industry; generating close relationships with colleges and universities to attract the best talent; and ensuring that education in this country can generate the right talent domestically. There is a virtuous circle – the brightest and the best from across the world come to London, which then attracts more business, growing the industry further and attracting more talent.
  2. Promoting the UK and London as a global advertising hub. There is strong evidence that foreign brands who decide to manage their global advertising from the UK often invest in being based here.  Government can encourage this more through their inward investment initiatives and by promoting the expertise in the advertising and marketing sectors in the UK.
  3. Similarly, there is strong rationale for Government to help stimulate domestic growth from SMEs through a new advertising tax credit. Alongside this, our industry is working on plans to provide practical advice to help SMEs to understand how advertising and marketing campaigns can accelerate their growth. We see a strong opportunity for Government to work with the advertising industry in forming relevant Sector Deals as part of its Industrial Strategy.
  4. Addressing important trade matters affecting our industry as part of the Government’s approach to Brexit. Two examples are around Audiovisual Media Services (AVMS) rules and GDPR data and privacy rules.  These are complex topics on which we are actively consulting with Government and where a sub-optimal outcome would be damaging for the advertising and media sectors.”

Read advertising’s industrial strategy here.

For more on the economic case for advertising, visit Credos.