For over a decade, Governments have valued the UK’s ‘Creative Industries’. That’s, in part, due to some very simple economic reasons: the creative economy is now our second largest industrial sector, and in recent years our fastest growing. The potential return for jobs, growth and the UK’s place in the world is immense, if the Government gets its support right.

What does this mean for advertising?

As the second largest creative sector, ‘Advertising and Marketing’ have always been a part of the story. But this has historically been limited to just our advertising agencies, rather than the wider activity of advertising. That has limited Government support for brands, media and agencies alike.

In reality, of the £20 billion which is due to be spent on advertising in 2014, around three-quarters will flow through our creative economy – funding television, radio, print and the internet. And that advertising spend is determined by brands, and relies on their freedom to advertise.

Only by ensuring the right environment for people to advertise will we support our wider creative economy, the UK’s world-beating media and the brands that choose to invest.

The Challenge

With 8 other creative sectors all pitching for their own support, advertising sometimes gets drowned out. Think-tanks and trade bodies rarely – if ever – mention advertising as a creative industry. Successive Governments have failed to link advertising as a creative sector, with advertising’s role in driving brands and media. And all political Parties have a track record of only ever mentioning advertising in a negative light.

What can be done?

Since the establishment of the Creative Industries Council things have improved. There’s a more coherent approach to the creative economy, advertising has a seat at the table, and there seems to be cross-party support.

But we have to keep plugging our wider story. Otherwise, the regulation of advertising is rarely linked to the creative economy. And that’s where we’ve stepped in.

First, we’ve evidenced advertising’s role in the economy. Our ad expenditure figures show where the money goes; Advertising Pays – through research we commissioned Deloitte to do – found out what the impact was on the creative economy; and we’ve used our members’ own examples to showcase the link between advertising and creative life in the UK.

Second, we’ve influenced the Council’s own work. For the first time, we’ve got ‘regulation’ into a strategy for the creative economy; it calls for Ministers ‘to support the sector in their rhetoric, and use evidence in their regulation.’ And as a leader of the sub-group on infrastructure, we’re now helping to deliver the strategy.

Third, we’re ‘influencing the influencers’. While a few years ago, plans for growth in the creative economy failed to mention advertising at all, our role is now front and centre – from trade bodies like the CBI through to think-tanks like the IPPR.

And fourth, we’re talking to politicians and their Parties. Ultimately, it’s Minister who decide whether regulation will happen, and how our sectors are supported. Through meetings, events, consultations, and the odd tour of Soho, we’ve shown the political world what ‘good’ looks like for advertising and UK creativity.

There’s more to do

While the importance of advertising is beginning to be recognised, that link between the creative economy, media and investment by brands is still under-valued. By pulling industry together, providing evidence, and bringing policy-makers closer to our members’ businesses, we can help guarantee that advertising is properly valued and supported.

creative industries