Protecting advertising after Brexit

Government must ensure that Britain secures a Brexit deal that does not endanger its position as a world leader in advertising, argues Seema Malhotra MP

Britain’s advertising industry is a world leader and supports over one million jobs in the United Kingdom – last year £21bn in advertising spend resulted in an estimated contribution of over £120bn in GDP.

The UK is also the largest exporter of advertising services in Europe, meaning the implications of Brexit could be huge for the industry.

The challenges for the advertising industry reflect the challenges we face in other sectors, but in some areas are more acute. How do we continue to attract talent and have access to important markets, something which is vital if it is to remain a global hub.

The advertising industry is just one part of our creative industries – which in conversation after conversation there is a sense of coasting rather than being in gear about our future. Success is complex and not the linear product of a particular degree or route map. Advertising is a discipline that brings together business, artists, communications, marketing, technology and creativity in a multi-billion pound industry.

Success comes from continuing to grow and develop innovative creative skills, being engaged with the best and having access to the very best in consumer awareness and consumer attitudes. It relies on the cross fertilisation of ideas and concepts. On modern technology and tools for data management and insight to develop effective messaging. This goes far beyond the sale of products, but into public awareness campaigns, public health and politics.

Our membership of the EU has helped bring consumer connectivity vital for successful marketing and reach in our EU markets. Advertising teams from across the EU working together bring vital cultural intelligence that is the best antidote against a rising tide of nationalism and division between peoples. Bring together the best talent from across countries gives the skills to understand nuance, give competitive advantage from speed and scale and ability to respond fast in the new digital environment.

London is the leading advertising hub in Europe, which attracts talent from around the world making it is the fourth largest advertising market globally. Out leadership in this field has been a function of many factors of our success, and there’s a big danger we take this for granted.

Whichever deal we strike, the UK will remain 21 miles away from a continent of 500 million people, consumers and businesses, it makes sense to keep as close ties to Europe and to the EU. The challenges for the Advertising industry are a key lens through which we can view how successful we are being on key economy issues in terms of investment, ease of operations across borders, transfer of skills and talent and retaining the leadership of the UK.

A recent WARC Report stated that leaving the European Union could cost the UK £70m in ad spend growth each year, which would cost the UK a total of £1bn by 2030. This is a significant long term damage that government must listen to and address. However May has presided over uncertainty, and even now with her half-hearted conversion to the clear need for a transition period, a proper architecture of our future with far more detail about how the transition period will work, what will be at the end of it and with the needs of the economy centre stage, is urgently needed before businesses take the decision to leave, and the ship of Britain’s prosperity starts to sail.

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Seema Malhotra MP is a member of the exiting the European Union select committee. She tweets at @SeemaMalhotra1

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