Viewpoints: Could we advertise ourselves out of recession?

maria miller

Rt Hon Maria Miller MP
Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport

The UK’s advertising industry is among the best in the world. And in today’s economic global race, it has a huge role to play in boosting the country’s economic recovery.

UK advertising makes a massive contribution to our economy. According to the AA’s latest research, undertaken by Deloitte, more than £16bn is spent every year on advertising in the UK, with wider economic impacts of up to £100bn. In other words, £1 spent on advertising generates £6 in the wider economy.

This dynamic sector is playing a significant part in our economic growth. One example of this is the success of our ‘GREAT’ campaign, [which ran last year to promote the UK abroad]. This is one of the most ambitious and far reaching campaigns developed by the UK Government. It is built around key themes that make Britain great, from culture to technology, innovation to creativity, and markets Britain in a truly imaginative way.

The campaign has been supported by a wide range of businesses, entrepreneurs and celebrities and is changing perceptions, encouraging more people to live, work, study and visit the UK, and making a real effect on growth and investment. This particular campaign is one that I am very proud of and neatly highlights the way advertising can support our media and creative industries, while creating and supporting a huge number of skilled jobs.

Continuing the trend of economic recovery in the coming years will demand not just a strong manufacturing base, but also a significant boost to consumer demand – and clearly advertising will play a central role in that. The creative talent that makes Britain a world leader for great film and

TV, amazing special effects and wonderful music is the same talent that inspires and makes our advertising. And it’s this talent that will help UK advertising realise its full potential as a key driver of economic growth.

gavin patterson

Gavin Patterson
Chief executive of BT Retail and president of the Advertising Association

In January, a UK law firm made headlines, claiming “office banter could cost business £292bn in 2013”. That’s around a fifth of total UK GDP.

Economic impact assessments often raise eyebrows. Every industry has one. And if you add together their respective claims, the UK’s economy would be leaving China in its wake. That’s why my immediate reaction to Deloitte’s findings was one of healthy scepticism.

But there is an important distinction to be made here. This is not a valuation of the “advertising industry”. The report’s scope is far more ambitious than that – to quantify the effects of advertising right across the economy. To examine how advertising makes competition, effective markets and innovation happen. And, increasingly important, how the advertising model has grown the internet.

When I thought about it that way, how advertising pervades every aspect of modern business and its unique ability to pit company against company, product against product, scepticism turned to realisation. Around 60 per cent of UK GDP, after all, is rooted in household consumption.

This is not the first report to suggest that advertising drives GDP, but it backs up that assertion with serious evidence. And it passes the reality check. As a result, we should expect some serious consideration as to how the economic effects of advertising can be maintained and improved. That’s for industry – through the Advertising Association – and the Government to tackle.

If we get it right, it might even pay for that office banter.

sam thomson

Sam Thomson
UK brand and values director
The Body Shop

Our stores and staff are in many ways our ‘advertising’. We invested in a new boutique store format in 2012, which is presently in 40 of our top locations and we plan to roll out to more during 2013. We know it provides a much more engaging shopping experience. Even more importantly, we have more than 2,500 passionate, values-led staff who are ambassadors for The Body Shop brand.

In terms of the brand’s digital presence, The Body Shop has a strong website, mobile site and mobile app – all of which are designed to drive sales and provide enriching content. Another key area is social media: it’s a great enabler for everything from customer service to VIP exclusives and allows us to be laser-focused with our messaging to specific customer groups and influencers. We are at heart a ‘social’ brand – right from the early days our philosophy has been around conversation, engagement and activism.

In isolation, all of these elements can help build The Body Shop brand; however the potential is multiplied when all of them work seamlessly together to create a consistent customer experience. One of the big advantages of being a relatively small team is that our planning and activation processes allow us to live and breathe this ‘omni-channel’ mindset.



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