Advertising will be “key to the UK’s post-Brexit success”, culture secretary Karen Bradley told the Advertising Association’s LEAD conference in London this morning (26 January). However, she gave no specific policy commitments to protect the industry or its talent from new immigration controls or Britain’s exit from the European single market.
In a speech that lauded advertising’s contribution to the economy, she said the government will “provide as much certainty and clarity as we can at every stage” but gave no assurances when asked by AA CEO Stephen Woodford how it would respond if the industry proposed a “special visa” for international workers.
Bradley stated the government’s position is to “forge new relationships around the globe while remaining open to overseas talent” and indicated that the advertising industry would need to take a leading role in promoting the UK abroad, as well as providing data and knowledge for the effort.
She assured the audience that the government has an “open door” and that it will work with any sector that can organise behind strong leadership and demonstrate a plan. Having policies to supply the right skills, address regulatory concerns and spread new technologies such as augmented reality and virtual reality were the elements she cited.
It is doubtful whether this will reverse the loss of business advertising companies have already seen since the Brexit vote. Some 22% of agencies surveyed by the AA said they had already lost contracts, while 62% feel the vote has “negatively impacted” their business outlook.
Adam&eveDDB lost £3m of business in the week after the vote, CEO James Murphy told the audience following Bradley’s speech, saying that the referendum has already had a “tangible effect”. A German client also decided against using the London agency as the lead for its new campaign following Prime Minister Theresa May’s confirmation that the UK would not stay in the single market.
Murphy added that having international talent was an important part of client pitches, to show “we’ve got people on the team who ‘get you’.”