Parliamentary Action: A United Front

Employing 40,000 people, with over 7,000 employed in the agency sector alone, the industry is becoming increasingly vital to Scotland’s economy.

But with the potential to increase this by £100m the group, supported by MSP Elaine Murray, vice convenor of the Finance Committee and Shadow Minister for Enterprise, called on the Parliament to work with the sector on a major push.

What follows is extracted highlights from the presentation made at the Parliament last week by Tim Maguire.

Featured here is a succession of open emails discussing the success, or otherwise, of the evening...

The Pitch

This marks a watershed in the history of Scottish marketing. It is the first time that we have stood as an industry, shoulder to shoulder showcasing the remarkable output of a nation steeped in a tradition of innovation and creative thinking.

That heritage is rightly celebrated not just at home but across the planet. Scotland punches way, way above its weight when intellect is being considered. And yet, Scottish marketing, a surprisingly large industry, driven by intellect, ploughs a weary and unheralded path through life.

Doing its own thing. Struggling against the weight of competition that comes from every corner of the UK and beyond.

We would like to set in motion a process of change. A process of engagement, not just with one another but with you, our government and agenda setters.

We need to be on that agenda and that need is real.

First, though, a little scene setting.

A little over two years ago a collective of Scottish marketing people, led by the Scottish Institute of Practitioners in Advertising, alongside the Direct Marketing Association, The Scottish Marketing Association, The Marketing Society and several media partners were worried about the “challenging times” that the industry faced.

It was decided that the time had come to address the issue of Scotland’s lack of joined-up thinking, representation, dialogue and action in an industry that is a core driver of Scotland’s economic prosperity.

So, they went to Scottish Enterprise and match-funded an economic report through EKOS Consulting that threw into stark relief the contribution that Scottish marketing makes to this country’s economy.

It hadn’t been done before. The data was difficult and expensive to gather from many different sources. But, six months later that report was delivered and it became the catalyst for a joining together of ambition, a fusing of commitment and a passion and thirst for knowledge and strategy that has now reached a crescendo.

This industry is desperately important to a nation that has gone through unprecedented constitutional change over the past decade and that stands on the verge of greater things.

Just imagine, for a moment, a nation where Irn Bru wasn’t made in Scotland from Girders. Where Simmers didn’t make lovely, lovely biscuits where things didn’t get better than a Kwik Fit fitter; where the bank wasn’t a friend for life and where you couldn’t Live it or Visit Scotland.

Imagine a nation where the newspapers had to find their own stories to feed the voracious reading public’s appetite.

Imagine a nation where every whisky bottle, beer can, milk carton and bread wrapper came in utilitarian packaging.

Imagine a nation that relied solely on imported programming to fill its television screens.

Imagine a nation that had not been touched by the new enlightenment where creativity and originality were deemed irrelevant. Daft, isn’t it.

Now, imagine a country that sees 75 percent of its marketing spend disappear to other places, chiefly London, where even some of the tax-payer-funded public sector fails to buy from its own world-class practitioners.

Image a country where a new digital economy is being held back by a lack of qualified young people.

That’s daft too.

But it’s exactly what happens in Scotland. It wouldn’t happen in Ireland – that’s for sure.

Ken Livingston is stumping up £50m a year to back Creative London, so valuable is the creative economy in his eyes. Amsterdam is one of the most exciting creative economies in Europe and it’s less than an hour away, Copenhagen is investing millions in its bright young things.

As an industry, we have been backward in coming forward. Like the cobblers children who are seldom shod we’ve failed to engage with the people in our own back yard. We’ve seen business walk away. We daren’t mention the L word, so irritating do we find the drift of money to London.

But, we’ve finally come together to showcase our work. The work of our advertising people, our direct marketers, our newspaper writers and TV programme makers, our researchers, our sales promotions experts, our PR people and the bright young things that are driving our digital economy forward.

This is an industry we can undoubtedly be proud of. An industry brimful of creativity, imagination and excellent strategic thinking.

An industry that makes Scotland tick, that adds spillover value to all it touches.

An industry of over 40,000 highly paid, well-educated people contributing over a billion pounds to the economy. Who knows, with the help of the Government, it could become 50,000.

But this is an industry that has failed to engage at the highest level with government because it has, in the past, been made up of too many silos.

And it is an industry that is leaking 75 percent of its income potential elsewhere (chiefly London).

This action is not about seeking handouts. It’s not about complaints – we are the people most guilty of not making our voices heard.

No, this is about asking this administration to acknowledge that Scottish marketing is indeed a key driver of this economy and a vital part of it in jobs and wealth creation in its own right.

But it’s also an industry that is struggling to keep its head above water.

We do need the Government’s help.

We need the Government to listen to our issues.

We need the Government to help us plot an economic path to prosperity.

We need the Government to give us its support.

To see the presentation see www.smcaction.org

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