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How Prepared is industry for a No-Deal Brexit?

/ October 11th 2019 / Matthew Evans
Brexit and Trade Policy

Between September 9 and 23, we surveyed 73 Advertising Association members to find out how prepared they feel for a No-Deal Brexit. Our members reported that their businesses are moderately prepared for a No-Deal Brexit but are not confident that they know exactly what it means for them. This means that they are not likely to make internal investments until they know what the impact will be.

To counter their low confidence, there is a need for additional guidance on new developments, programmes, and assurances that can help the industry through a No-Deal Brexit. Ideally this would come from the Government or other regulatory bodies. Examples of additional guidance include: The Government’s Business Brexit Checklists, amendments to data protection regulations, or changes to immigration policies.

Summary of Key Findings

Measuring Preparedness

Preparedness is a challenging construct to measure. As such, we looked at it from 3 different angles, with the intention of being able to create a holistic story.

First, we asked how prepared they felt their business is currently for a No-Deal Brexit. Second, we asked respondents to estimate their business’ level of financial investment over the next 6 months. Third, we asked respondents to estimate their business’s level of workforce investment over the next 6 months.

1. Current Level of Preparedness

Respondents report that their business is fairly prepared for a No-Deal Brexit, with 29% of respondents saying that their level of preparedness was “Neutral” (neither not prepared, or very prepared). This indicates a level of ambivalence and indecision.

Survey results:
1 (Not prepared) – 19%
2 (Minimally prepared) – 22%
3 (Neutral) – 29%
4 (Moderately prepared) – 23%
5 (Very prepared) – 5%
Don’t know – 1%
* Q6. (n = 73) On a scale of 1-5 (where 1 is not prepared, and 5 is very prepared) how prepared do you think your business is for dealing with a No-Deal Brexit?

2. Likelihood of Future Financial Investments

In the next 6 months, respondents predict there to be little to no economic investment in their businesses. This is one of the indicators that shows a lack of confidence in the post No-Deal Brexit landscape (despite self-reported neutral preparedness).

Survey results:
1 (Not likely) – 34%
2 (Somewhat likely) – 5%
3 (Neutral) – 30%
4 (Moderately likely) – 12%
5 (Extremely likely) – 10%
Don’t know – 8%
* Q7. (n = 73) On a scale of 1-5 (where 1 is not likely, and 5 is extremely likely) how likely is are you to increase investment(s) in the UK, over the next six months?

3. Likelihood of Future Workforce Investments

In the next 6 months, respondents predict that they will make no further expansion or investment in their workforce. This is another indication that confidence is low (despite self-reported neutral Preparedness).
Survey results:
1 (Not likely) – 40%
2 (Somewhat likely) – 12%
3 (Neutral) – 10%
4 (Moderately likely) – 21%
5 (Extremely likely) – 14%
Don’t know – 3%
* Q9. (n = 72) On a scale of 1-5 (where 1 is not likely, and 5 is extremely likely) how likely is are you to increase your workforce in the UK, over the next six months?

4. Leave or Delay?

In line with the results indicating a lack of confidence, 85% of respondents said that delaying until a deal can be reached would be better for their business’ long-term future (versus leaving at the end of October).
Survey results:
Delay leaving until a deal can be reached – 85%
Leave on 31/10/2019 – 15%
* Q15. (n = 73) In your opinion, which of the following Brexit scenarios would allow your business to ensure a more successful future?

Areas of Most Concern

Statistical Analysis
To add to our analysis, we ask respondents to select which issues they felt would directly impact their business the most as a result of a No-Deal Brexit. These responses were group, which allowed us to understand what was causing their lack of confidence.

1. Ability to Operate Internationally
Respondents are the most concerned with their business’s ability to operate internationally after a No-Deal Brexit (selected by 32% of respondents; n=73). This includes a loss of contacts and business, disruptions to growth and operations, and temporary exports.

Regarding Temporary Exports, the Advertising Association recommends that businesses apply for an ATA Carnets, which will allow them to temporarily move goods to the EU for up to one year.

2. Ability to Retain and Recruit International Talent
The second highest category was their ability to retain/recruit employees from the EU, EEA, and Switzerland (selected by 26% of respondents; n=73).

The Advertising Association recommends that businesses who rely on talent from the EU, EEA, and Switzerland investigate helping employees with the Temporary Leave to Remain and the EU Settlement Schemes.

3. Ability to Transfer Personal Data
The third highest category involved data protection (selected by 15% of respondents; n=73). This included an interruption to the cross-border flow of data and changes to compliance policies.

The Advertising Association has provided numerous recommendations on how businesses can continue transferring personal data after a No-Deal Brexit. These include establishing Standard Contractual Clauses (SCCs), Binding Corporate Rules, appointing a Data Representative, amongst others.

Read more of the Advertising Association’s Brexit recommendations here.

Recommended Actions

Further recommendations can be made based on the findings of the survey to help increase the industry’s confidence and minimise the fallout after a No-Deal Brexit.

Five Key actions

1. Recognise that the advertising industry is nervous about the consequences of a No-Deal Brexit

2. Open up communication channels with the advertising industry to keep them up to date

3. Work closely with the trade bodies, and other regulatory associations to maximise the reach of any communications

4. Provide guidance on new policy changes that impact the industry (includes changes to data protection and recruiting/retaining international talent)

5. Provide guidance and assistance on insurance policies that will be set-up to assist the industry after a No-Deal Brexit

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