What the marketing and advertising industries want from the Labour government

From investing in creative education to championing the growth opportunities advertising offers the UK, here’s what Prime Minister Keir Starmer needs to tackle first for the marketing industry. 

With Sir Keir Starmer winning a landslide majority overnight, here’s a reminder of what Labour set out to do in its manifesto – and what the industry wants the new government to tackle first.  

As part of its overall industrial strategy, Labour has committed to “create good jobs and accelerate growth” in film, music, gaming and other creative sectors, part of its creative industries sector plan.

Advertising-related policies didn’t massively feature in Labour’s manifesto ahead of the election – but that doesn’t mean there aren’t areas needing change. 

Other wider policies will likely impact the marketing industry too. Young people can expect changes to apprenticeships as Labour plans to create a flexible Growth and Skills Levy to replace the existing Apprenticeship Levy. Artificial intelligence is extremely likely to take centre stage in the next five years of government too. Labour’s approach to AI so far focuses on safe development and regulation.  

Labour also wants to strengthen women’s rights, from equal pay to maternity and menopause discrimination and sexual harassment. This is something marketing will benefit from, with the industry’s women suffering from a 16% gender pay gap, compared with the country’s average of 7.7%.  

What Labour needs to do first  

Sustainable growth opportunity  

In the foreword to Labour’s Creating Growth Plan for Arts, Culture and Creative Industries, Thangam Debbonaire – Labour’s shadow secretary of state for culture, media and sport who was not re-elected today – spoke about the intrinsic value of arts and culture. The Institute of Practitioners in Advertising (IPA) is “delighted” by this, says Paul Bainsfair, director general.  

He says at the top of the IPA’s list for what it thinks the government should prioritise is “to champion our industry and help it to continue to thrive in order to help the UK”.

The IPA also wants to see better investment in education for creative subjects, and for the government to explore approaches to “level the playing field” to ensure the UK can “attract and retain the best international talent and remain a dominant, international advertising force”.  

The UK’s advertising industry is big business; it’s worth £36bn to the UK and its exports in 2023 reached £18bn.  

The UK needs to remain at the forefront of the data-driven economy. Regulatory certainty and support for the Advertising Standards Authority is key, as well as reforming education and skills policies.

Stephen Woodford, Advertising Association

“As one of the UK’s top growth industries and service exporters, we look forward to working with the Prime Minister and his Cabinet to help deliver sustainable growth across the UK’s nations and regions,” says Stephen Woodford, CEO of the Advertising Association.  

Woodford says “as we enter a new political landscape, creating the conditions for responsible, sustainable business growth is the top priority”.  

“The UK needs to remain at the forefront of the data-driven economy. Regulatory certainty and support for the Advertising Standards Authority is key, as well as reforming education and skills policies to ensure our industry has the best creative and digital talent for our continued success and to grow jobs and investment,” he adds.  

Starmer gave a speech outside the Tate Modern gallery this morning (5 July) as Labour reached the vital number of seats to take a majority.  

This was “fitting”, says Caroline Norbury, CEO of Creative UK – the national membership body for the creative industries. “This signal that a new UK Government will place the cultural and creative industries at the heart of industrial strategy is, perhaps, also a sign of hope that the creative sector is finally also being understood as a public good,” she says.  

“What we need now is policy into practice,” adds Norbury. “The prioritisation of a transformative curriculum which values creativity and develops our capability. Bold approaches to funding and finance through patient capital, with the Treasury focused properly on growth. Investment in regions and communities, in order to really help creative organisations thrive.” 

Take stock 

For Christie Dennehy-Neil, head of policy and regulatory affairs at the Internet Advertising Bureau UK (IAB), the incoming government represents “not only a change but a valuable opportunity to take stock and reassess how to address challenges within the online ecosystem”.  

Labour shouldn’t just “automatically pick up where the Conservatives left off when it comes to making policy decisions about further regulation of digital advertising,” she urges.  

“Labour must deliver on its commitments to provide a stable and pro-business policy and regulatory environment that creates certainty for investment and growth in UK digital advertising,” she says.  

Regulatory reform in digital advertising needs to be handled by Labour in an “evidence-based and proportionate way,” says Dennehy-Neil.  

It’s in everyone’s interests to strike the right balance between managing the risk of consumer harm and supporting the UK’s digital advertising industry – and the wider digital economy that it drives – to thrive,” she adds.  

Kickstart economic growth  

When the election was called and parliament dissolved, many raised concerns about the pausing of bills that hadn’t yet passed through legilsation.  

Perhaps one of the most high-profile pieces of legislation impacting marketing in the last few years is the regulation of HFSS products.  

“We urge the Government to pass the Secondary Legislation required to finish the introduction of new food and drink advertising regulations. Advertisers are desperate for clarity and certainty on what products, categories and media are in or out of scope of the new regulations,” says Phil Smith, director general at the Incorporated Society of British Advertisers (ISBA).  

He adds that many brands are already planning ad campaigns without finalised rules and guidance. “Passing the necessary Secondary Regulations would be an easy, pro-business and pro-growth step for this incoming government to take,” he adds.  

ISBA is also looking forward to working with the new government and Department for Culture, Media and Sport to “help deliver Labour’s mission of kickstarting economic growth across all of the UK’s regions and nations,” says Smith.  

“The UK’s system of self and co-regulation of advertising content and placement has proven to be a world-leading success story. We ask the Government to continue to support this. As a member of the Online Advertising Taskforce, we are committed to working with government on the Online Advertising Programme as it develops proposals for the future,” Smith proposes.