Marketers are uncertain about what impact the out come of the Scottish independence referendum will have it seems following a panel session held during the Marketing Society Scotland’s Amplify event.
In partnership with the Advertising Association, the Marketing Society Scotland’s ‘Referendum Marketing Question Time’ session invited a panel of industry experts to argue the case for yes or no in front delegates from Tennent’s, the Scotsman, Tesco Bank, STV and Scotrail to name but a few.
Andrew Wilson, Charlotte Street Partners; Colin Pyle, Yes Scotland; and Ian Ferguson-Brown, Brandband argued that Scotland should be independent and Ghill Donald, BD Network; Ruth McKay, UNIQ Marketing; and Hugh Burkitt, the Marketing Society; argued against, and whilst passion was clear on both sides, definitive answers were not.
The debate, chaired by Gerry O’Donnell, head of corporate affairs at The Edrington Group, took many twists and turns with Wilson calling on Scots to “believe in ourselves” more and Pyle warning that the No campaign’s lack of White Paper or clear “vision” for Scotland should ring alarm bells with undecided voters.
When specifically asked what independence would mean for Scottish brands, Yes supporter Ferguson-Brown said there would be “great potential” for Scottish brands to trade off their “honest and direct” reputation if the vote went in favour of Scotland going it alone.
Burkitt however claimed that whatever the outcome, brands would see no difference as “legend and story” sell, not “political fact”.
Drawing attention to what independence could mean for business owners, BD Network’s Donald drew on his experience setting up shop south of the border and relayed that if Scotland became independent he, like many others, would be choosing to register his business in England as it would become too complicated to be remain registered up north.
“Separation would cause a problem,” he said. “I would have no alternative but to register in London and Standard Life and RBS, stalwarts of Scottish marketing, are equally serious about moving down south.”
Though the debate was merely to discuss the “potential” impact of independence, the lasting impression of the session was that marketers and business leaders remained as unclear as the rest of Britain about what independence could really mean for Scotland and the UK.