Representing UK advertising to Government.
The Advertising Association connects the advertising sector – agencies, brands and media-owners –to Government. So Brexit, as you might expect, is top of our agenda in 2017.
This was a landmark decision with the potential to disrupt every industry – particularly the most mobile, global and interconnected. Our goal is to ensure that advertising’s voice is clear and understood now the negotiations have begun in earnest.
Last year, Credos – advertising’s think-tank – examined advertising’s export value. Our balance of payments surplus is the healthiest in Europe, but is particularly geared towards the continent. Across the Creative Industries, 43% of exports are to Europe. In advertising, the figure is 61%.
Since then, Credos has surveyed nearly 150 companies to explore Brexit’s impact on employment, business opportunity and investment across the advertising and marketing sector. Conducted in spring 2017 it found, unsurprisingly, plenty of concern.
Game of Votes (Crispin Porter & Bogusky London)
Don't Let Them Gamble With Your Future (Adam & Eve/DDB)
Two-thirds of respondents believe the UK is now a less attractive place to do business. A quarter have already lost business. People are worried about access to talent with 69% employing staff from outside of the UK, most commonly in IT (16%), design and creative (15%) and management (10%) roles. On average, just under one-fifth of company workforces are non-British EU nationals.
But there’s optimism too. For the majority, investment decisions remain unchanged. 71% have made no changes to UK investment plans, rising to 75% for investment in non-EU markets. Just over a tenth of respondents believe Brexit is an opportunity for growth.
We believe there’s another opportunity. Not only to push Government for the best Brexit for our sector, but in the process to promote advertising’s role at the heart of the UK economy.
The Prime Minister triggered Article 50 at the end of March – firing the starting gun for two years of negotiations. All 27 other Member States and the European Parliament will need to agree the deal and the UK can’t formally start talks with other trading nations until the EU-UK divorce is final.
It’s now apparent that leaving the EU means leaving the Single Market in the long term, despite signals from the Treasury which favour a longer transitional period on our existing arrangements– but the continuing message from Number 10 is that we are open for business – with Europe as well as the rest of the world.
The European Union (Withdrawal) Bill – one Act to enshrine all existing EU law in UK law, whilst also repealing the European Communities Act 1972, has already been introduced into the Commons- with a slew of another seven Brexit bills unveiled in the Queen’s Speech.
Brexit and UK advertising.
By rejecting the single market, the Prime Minister has ruled out the most direct way to ensure UK goods and services remain legal and tradeable in Europe. This can still be achieved, but we now face more questions and uncertainty around, for example, data and broadcast regulation.
Advertising spend held firm in the months after the vote, growing at 4.2%, but the AA/WARC’s forecast has declined to 2.5% growth in 2017.
The Prime Minister is talking confidently about Britain’s future as a global and European trading partner and clearly, Government wants a business-friendly environment. This is the context as we push our status as a global hub for advertising to Government, as the new Department for International Trade ramps up support – including reaching out to markets like Dubai.
#DontFuckwithMyFuture (Adam & Eve/DDB)
Talents and skills.
The aim to secure an early reciprocal deal for EU citizens is particularly important, given our survey suggests as many as 1 in 5 working in UK advertising are from the EU.
It’s future immigration policy, however, that will determine our ability to recruit the right people and skills from around the world. As demand for digital skills outstrips supply, the Advertising Association is arguing for flexibility, allowing UK-based agencies, media and brands to recruit from a global talent pool.