The election result: what it means for marketers

Here is how a non-coalition, slim Tory majority will impact the marketing industry.

A more relaxed view towards food advertising

The Tory manifesto was light on anti-advertising rhetoric, suggesting the party would continue with its fairly relaxed approach towards food and drink ad regulation.

In its manifesto, the party said it would “reduce childhood obesity and continue to promote clear food information,” suggesting a continuation of clearer labelling initiatives rather than any radical changes.

This was in stark comparison to the Liberal Democrats – which has taken a pummelling at the polling stations – and its manifesto promise to push for pre–watershed bans on junk food ads. In the past, Labour and SNP haven’t ruled out hard legalisation towards the advertising industry in the fight to combat obesity either.

Last month, the Advertising Association warned of the consequences of a coalition government and potential regulation towards food advertising, warning it would create losses of up to £250m annually.

But with no coalition this time around and Labour underperforming, those concerns are diminishing.

Gambling

The mention of any sanctions towards the marketing within the gambling industry was a surprise omission from the party manifestos.

But despite Westminster expressing its concerns over the intensity of ads over recent years, a Conservative outcome is potentially the best result, according to Ian Barber, communications director at the Advertising Association.

He told Marketing Week last month: “It was a surprise omission but the evidence shows that although there has been an increase in advertising since the market was deregulated problem gambling has stayed flat, so MPs and the Conservatives in particular are backing off, and championing an evidence-based approach.”

An evidence-based approach to legislation

During its Election campaign, the Conservative party said it was the best choice for marketers as it will “deliver an environment in which businesses – particularly those that rely on healthy consumer spending – can thrive.”

It has also pledged to “continue to remove red tape for marketers” and help the marketing industry continue to grow after UK advertising grew at its highest rate since 2010 last year, increasing 5.8% to £18.6bn.

“We’ve got rid of the mass of red tape and regulation which the last Labour Government tangled you up in and we’ve tried to encourage self-regulation as far as possible,” a Conservative spokesman told Marketing Week back in March.

“Where we do legislate, it’s based on evidence rather than ideology. Because the marketing sector is one of Britain’s great creative and economic success stories – and as long as the Conservative Party is in government – we’ll do everything we can to make sure it stays that way.

“Confidence for marketers”

A majority government will boost marketers’ confidence, according to IPA Bellwether Report author Paul Smith.

The pound jumped against the Euro at the highest rate in two years following the news of an imminent Conservative majority, with the financial industry pleased about the prospect of a stable right-wing government. The FTSE 100 index has also jumped by 148 points to 7028, or 2%, following this morning’s result.

“Its likely to be a stable government, which is usually seen as a good measure for business confidence in general,” said economist Smith.

“On that basis of stability there will be no uncertainty around horse trading around a coalition government, which will be positive for the marketing industry.”

Ian Twinn, director of public affairs at ISBA, added: “It looks like there will now be a stronger government than the polls predicted, which will give the UK and marketers much needed stability over the next five years.”

However, Smith added that “questions still remain” over the EU referendum and said that, as a result, the positivity among businesses could be short-term.

The most recent Bellwether Report, released in April, showed that marketing spend grew at an accelerated pace in the first quarter of 2015, but any move to leave Europe could hit this optimism.

Concern over Europe

The financial markets could get nervous very soon, with David Cameron’s previous promise of an in-out referendum on Britain’s UK membership set to soon resurface.

“Since a referendum is unlikely to be scheduled for a few years, it could lead to a protracted period of weakness for sterling,” reckons Kathleen Brooks, an analyst for trading platform Forex.com.

The FTSE 100 remains a major hub and attraction for international businesses to list. However, with the likes of HSBC already threatening to relocate its head office from British shores if the Conservatives persist with their anti-European stance, the uncertainty could well be a headache for a lot of UK-based brands with an export-led business.

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Comments
  • E Roberts 10 May 2015 at 12:50 pm

    If MW is going to quote Ian Twinn, I think it should at least be made clear that he’s a former Conservative MP and MEP, as well as having served as Deputy Chairman of the Conservative Party. It’s no surprise that he thinks the new government will be “stronger [and] will give the UK and marketers much needed stability over the next five years.”

    FWIW, I suspect a 12-seat majority, including many ‘difficult’ MPs, will prove altogether less stable than the 55-seat majority the coalition enjoyed. Add in the uncertainty over an EU referendum (correctly identified by Paul Smith and every serious business leader as a major concern), and the outlook for business, and therefore marketing, is not nearly as rosy as the piece suggests, some freedom over food advertising notwithstanding.

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