Matt Hancock, the new minister for culture and the digital economy, used his first speech to an advertising audience to reassure the industry that he would listen to their concerns over Brexit and that he understands the important role it plays to the UK economy.
Speaking at the Advertising Association’s summer reception, Hancock laid out how despite the fact that the vast majority of the audience had voted to remain in the EU, it is now “encumbent on all of us to work to make the best of it”.
He highlighted three principles to making it work: first through getting the best possible deal with the EU; second through making the most of the UK’s relationships with the rest of the world; and third by winning an argument about the nature of Britain.
“I want to hear from all of you on what matters most to you about our relationship with Europe so we can feed that into the renegotiations,” he said.
“I want to see a Britain that is more successful, more prosperous but also that is tolerant, open and inclusive. I am convinced we can do this but we have to get out there and make the argument. We are the undisputed hub for advertising in Europe and maybe the world. I want to work with you to make sure that remains the case for generations to come.”
Hancock also laid out his view on one of the key issues facing the industry – regulation.
“The legal, truthful, honest and decent approach to advertising in the UK is incredibly important. Entrenching these principles through behaviour rather than through statutory means is very important to me.”
Matt Hancock MP, minister for culture and the digital economy
His words were broadly welcomed. Ian Twinn, ISBA’s director of public affairs, who was at the event says: “Matt Hancock’s message to adland was well informed, clearly reflected a keen interest in our challenges and how our small bit of the creative industries can help the UK make a success of Brexit.”
That it was well infomed is key and Hancock was keen to point out his background in the industry. His boss, the new secretary of state for culture, media and sport Karen Bradley, has very little experience in the sector.
But Hancock pointed out that his family business was in direct marketing and that in his previous role as minister for the cabinet office he was responsible for the government’s £300m ad budget.
“Advertising is an area I am deeply interested in and have have experience of,” he said.
“I have experience as a significant buyer of advertising. We worked very hard to be a smarter buyer of advertising and to deconflict some of the purchasing and smarter up the impact of our ad buying.”