The marketing industry is calling for a period of stability and evidence-based decision making amid a deepening inflation crisis following the appointment of Liz Truss as the UK’s new Prime Minister today (5 September).
Truss was elected leader of The Conservative Party, beating former Chancellor Rishi Sunak in a poll of party members, and will now form a Government.
Citing the pressing need for political leadership, ISBA director general Phil Smith notes that despite surviving a decade of “unprecedented uncertainty”, the industry is facing serious headwinds. In order for marketing to thrive, Smith wants the Truss administration to rethink the way decisions are made at the heart of government.
“Make policy based on evidence, not headlines. Drop ideas which will hinder our industry not help it, like the sale of Channel 4 to which advertisers are overwhelmingly opposed. And restore clarity and direction to important legislation, like the Online Safety Bill and digital competition reform,” he says.
“Brand advertisers have always sought to work with government to address the big social and economic issues of our time. They stand ready to do so again. We hope that the Truss administration will open the door to constructive partnership with industry, so that together we can meaningfully address the challenges that face us.”
We ask that [Truss] will protect our widely respected, self-funded and world-leading self-regulatory system and ensure that it is supported rather than undermined.
Paul Bainsfair, IPA
The need for a “proper assessment” of the proposed privatisation of Channel 4 is an issue also raised by Advertising Association director of public affairs, Sue Eustace, who describes the broadcaster as the “crown jewel in the UK’s creative output on the world stage.”
Eustace is demanding the Truss team develop policies that help advertisers through the tough times ahead, while also celebrating the industry’s creativity and contribution to the overall “positioning of Global Britain”.
“We need regulatory certainty, support for the ASA advertising self-regulatory system and the scaling back of unnecessary regulatory intervention such as the HFSS advertising restrictions,” she adds.
“It also means going further. We encourage the government to look, longer-term, at developing a strategic industrial strategy that will benefit the UK’s leading advertising, creative and professional business services sectors.”
On this point, Eustace highlights the importance of skills, particularly changes to the apprenticeship levy, alongside the need to evolve immigration policy to enable companies to attract the best global talent post-Brexit.
Urgent action required
Given the current cost of living crisis, IPA director general Paul Bainsfair points out how unhelpful it has been to wait two months for the announcement of Boris Johnson’s successor.
Making changes to the apprenticeship levy should be high on the list of priorities for the incoming PM, he states, arguing the levy in its current form is not working for companies. The IPA wants the Truss administration to consider what more can be done within education to open advertising up as a career path for young people.
“Other areas that we hope to work with the new Prime Minister on include the industry’s two key initiatives, Ad Net Zero – aimed at making the ad industry reach net zero by 2030 – and the All In Action Plan – for building a more diverse and inclusive workforce,” says Bainsfair.
Expressing approval at Truss’s opposition to the introduction of HFSS ad bans, the IPA director general argues the existing CAP and BCAP Codes are already among the toughest in the world.
“We also ask that she will protect our widely respected, self-funded and world-leading self-regulatory system and ensure that it is supported rather than undermined. The Online Advertising Programme, introduced by the previous Conservative government, poses an unwelcome and unnecessary threat to the system,” says Bainsfair.
Make policy based on evidence, not headlines. Drop ideas which will hinder our industry not help it, like the sale of Channel 4.
Phil Smith, ISBA
Furthermore, the IPA is calling on the new PM to cancel the planned rise in corporation tax, as well as to introduce ‘low tax zones’ to “aid SMEs and startups” across the UK. Bainsfar believes Truss should recognise the financial contribution of the UK ad industry and help the sector realise its “global power”.
While the British Retail Consortium wants the new PM to include a freeze in the business rates multiplier next year to protect consumers from higher prices, the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) is calling for action “big and bold” enough to save the very existence of small firms.
FSB national chair Martin McTague wants Truss to back her pledge to reverse the recent hike in National Insurance and free more small firms from business rates.
“Small firms, not protected by an energy price cap, are seeing bills soaring out of control. This is at a time of sky-high taxes, rampant inflation and supply chain disruption, creating a toxic mix which must be addressed urgently,” says McTague.
“Small businesses are crying out for a comprehensive response which cuts taxes, limits spiralling bills and provides direct cash support for the smallest businesses.”