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Scottish Independence Referendum

Nearly two thirds of Scots agency bosses plan to vote no in Scottish Independence Referendum


By Stephen Lepitak, -

September 3, 2014 | 12 min read

Almost two thirds of marketing and communications agency bosses in Scotland plan to vote No in the Scottish Independence, The Drum has discovered, with over half stating they didn’t believe client spend would be improved in the short-term within an independent Scotland.

The Drum received 53 responses from marketing and communication agency chiefs to its anonymous survey around their views on how Scottish Independence would affect the sector north of the Border. Of the respondents, 60.38 per cent revealed they planned to vote No in the forthcoming referendum, however over a third (37.74 per cent) said they would vote Yes, and 1 person was undecided.

There was a smaller divide when it came to whether agency bosses expected the marketing sector in Scotland to benefit from independence, with 9.43 per cent said they were unsure while 50.94 per cent said they didn’t think it would benefit the sector.

However, when it came to client spend, over half (54.72 per cent) said they did not believe that would improve with independence over the next decade, while 30.19 per cent said they thought it would and 15.09 per cent were not sure.

Finally, over half (52.83 per cent) did not believe their business would benefit over the next decade should Scotland become independent, while 30.19 per cent believed it would and 16.98 per cent were unsure.

Several of those who took part left comments with their thoughts on independence.

“There is still little clarity on fiscal policies and how the economy would run - it would be a giant leap into the unknown,” said one respondent.

“Longer term I think it could it could be a very positive outcome for the sector. However, in the short term I think there could be a lot of pain. It might just be part of a natural cycle of things - but I think it could be very painful for many existing businesses never the less,” another commented.

Another claimed that an independent Scotland would result in “major expansion” within the Scottish economy that would benefit the country’s creative industry.

Those who took part in the survey came from a background of advertising, direct marketing, digital, PR, media buying and design companies from across Scotland.

The infographic has been reproduced from the latest edition of The Drum magazine, available to buy in The Drum store from 3 September.

The full list on unedited comments can be viewed below:

It will depend on the impact re currency and other 'set-up' costs. Companies may decide to tighten their belts in the short-term to see how things pan out I.e will there be a backlash from rUK re buying Scottish products? I suspect there will but that in time things will balance out again.

Breaking a seamless single UK market with shared currency, regulatory and legal institutions is self evidently bad for business. Partners will become compeitors and Scotland would face the isolated reality of becoming a foreign country. UK companies would increasingly use UK suppliers, as they do in Ireland. UK agencies like BD who are currently registered in Scotland but located in the UK and beyond would l re register in the UK for basic commercial reasons.

I'm not happy with the status quo. I think Scotland can be better. Voting yes is the only viable alternative to the status quo. Let's make Scotland a better country.

There is still little clarity on fiscal policies and how the economy would run - it would be a giant leap into the unknown.

general feeling is that it wont be a good thing… Scotland needs big clients to provide marketing spend, from what i can see - big business is not for independence… not convinced but also totally unsure.

The key is to look at either scenario as an opportunity. Nothing will happen overnight.

Longer term I think it could it could be a very positive outcome for the sector. However, in the short term I think there could be a lot of pain. It might just be part of a natural cycle of things - but I think it could be very painful for many existing businesses never the less.

It will be a total disaster - make no mistake. Our industry is just coming out of recession. ALL our clients think it is bad for business - as do most business people. We are linked to the economy. The economy will tank. I predict we would lose 40% of our headcount within 2 years. Out of work and probably leaving Scotland. (Like the Irish.) All my experience, knowledge and business nous tells me this - and I'm not alone. But we can't speak up because the Government funds so much of our industry. One has to ask the question - WHY will it be better???? We're proud to be Scottish, proud of our nation and our people, proud of what we do and confident - which is why we have survived and prospered. We have prospered by being part of the UK - which is now the fastest growing economy in the West. The fact we don't know about currency, oil reserves, NATO, EU etc is just a bloody JOKE. Give me one good reason we'll SUDDENLY BE BETTER OFF? Please. Sir Ian Wood hit the nail on the head - this has long term consequences for our children and our grandchildren. The politicians don't understand our industry and give no thought to what this might do to us. Last person out please switch the lights off. Above all I resent the way this has DIVIDED US and split us down the middle. Nationalism is the politics of resentment, and the SNP have stoked the feelings of being downtrodden and blaming everything on 'Westminster' which is an unsubtle shorthand for the 'English'. Sad days.

I believe independence will result in a major expansion of Scotland's economy. That can only benefit Scotland's creative industries. I also believe that a new Scottish Government will take a positive, entrepreneurial approach to business and, again, that should help to reverse the decline in our communications sector.

As part of UK, Scottish business too often exports its best opportunities to the south of England - denying the local market the chance to build critical mass and in-depth experience. Compared to a 'national' market like Dublin, agencies simply do better because money gravitates towards power.

It would be great for the higher profile independence would bring to see more indigenous agencies on a world stage

An Independent Scotland would see Global advertisers look for representation in Scotland, rather than, as is largely the case at present, in London.

The Yes campaign have done what all good brands do - they have captured the emotional high-ground. The issue for me, is this is not about a brand or a product which you can change or stop buying; it is about our futures and it is irreversible. The arguments being put up by Salmond do not stack up, however this seems to be out-weighed by the braveheart factor which is in his favour. As for the No campaign, it is truly pathetic. No campaign, no strategy, no imaging to lead the news agenda. The few bits of work I have seen are a classic committee, lowest common denominator, stock shot style campaign that does a great impersonation of a dull magnolia wallpaper.If No win it will be despite their marketing.

To only look at the potential impact on the top down client spend/established sector is only half the story: we also need to evaluate the potential impact on talent and what feeds our industry. Whilst no-one has any answers and the scope for both positive and negative impact is wide, we cannot ignore the potential effects on talent. Creative talent is the lifeblood of our industry and we can't ignore that independence may affect that in many ways, whether through funding, training, education, experience, 'drain' or simply creative context. We should remain open that these effects may be positive, but we cannot ignore their potential impact all the same.

It would be madness. A small market will only get smaller. And our ability to win UK wide work, which we all need, will become even harder.

The fact that practically every major business and industry sector has warned against it says it all - uncertainty is bad for business. We're in something of an uncertain state now - businesses are having to put resources into preparing for something that may leave them in an even greater state of uncertainty come September. With no confirmed currency, no confirmed debt arrangements, no confirmed central bank, businesses will find it hard/impossible to raise the money from lenders they need to keep their businesses growing. Investment will certainly stop for a considerable while. And what will clients do, faced with businesses that may not be able to sustain themselves for the next few years? If I were them, I'd go with a safer choice. The worst thing is that any debate on this issue has you branded as 'buying into project fear'. I'm not afraid - I prefer facts to dumb faith. And the facts say: unproven. It's a leap into the unknown - never good for business, the economy, lives, income or anything. For devoted nationalists, everything is just a 'price worth paying'. Our sector, our economy should not fall for this experiment.

I truly believe that we already have a diminishing communications sector - how many great agencies have either disappeared or been driven into a consultation process to make some of their most cherished colleagues redundant, just to stay afloat. I appreciate that some agencies have prospered in recent years, but no-where near the amount that have gone to the wall. With an approaching referendum, I can only foresee a market that will be squeezed due to nervous outside investment. If a YES vote is delivered, do we honestly think that our major investors will be queuing up to place their money in a country that has an undecided currency solution, no direct access to the European Union and concerns of trade and export - to name only of a few.

Yes we have invested in our domain name for well over a decade and would hate to see it go. Although Nominet would still sell's to firms in an independent Scotland eventually we would need to migrate to a .scot - we assume - but domains are highly trusted by consuemrs and business people alike not to mention the fact that we have invested in building it up and own about 30 variants, So starting over is a slow and painful (in SEO terms) process to undergo again. Or maybe Alex thinks Google are wrong too?

there's no upside to independence - the majority of business leaders across Scotland are rejecting separation from the UK with the risks of CU, EU membership and public sector deficit foremost in their concerns not to mention the expected insularity of a nationalistic regime and the untold upheaval of uncoupling from UK institutions and disproportionate cost of setting up Scotland-only nation infrastructure.

why make it fragmented more? Westminster / central government are attractive and current clients. Suddenly my company would be considered foreign and in a weaker position for bids. Then there is the HUGE risk on the currency. The whole thing is a waste of effort and time (aside from pollsters and advertisers making money out of the campaigns now) . The sooner a no vote goes through the better and we can move on.

After 2-3 years of some 'turbulence' I expect Scotland's communications sector to feel free from the shackles of London and create a vibrant forward thinking example to the rest of the UK and beyond!

I fear the large companies I work with are likely to become more London-centric should Scotland vote for independence. Currency issues could make working with large corporates even more complicated and existing procurement is hard enough for a small company.

We might need to relocate south of the border if independence is voted through. Our main customers are South of the border.

It has already impacted the country, whatever happens, Salmond as divided us and called the whole Barnett Formula into question. it has also forced me to buy a (VERY EXPENSIVE) 2-bed flat in York, as i'm not paying for his plans if the Scots vote for him! for the record, i have also moved all my money out of Scottish Banks, something i should have done years ago. THE biggest danger to the Scots economy is Alec Salmond.

It's the worst thing that could happen to Scotland, and will take it back more than 30 years in relation to the communications sector.

Independence has not hurt Australia, New Zealand, India, Canada, Ireland - why should it hurt us? At present we are a small poor area of the UK. Unlike the BBC and STV, I hope the Drum will not show bias in its handling of this issue - for example I notice no question about whether I am an voting or a non voting, i.e. English member of your database.

We do a lot of work in the US - they believe the UK is the hub of creativity. Not Scotland.

Hopefully a renewed sense of confidence would permeate the industry, moving us towards a more international outlook.

A separate Scotland would be a disaster for the entire country. Like in every other downturn this industry would feel it first.

Scotland already has a strong national identity. Independence will reinforce this as well as giving its creative industries the confidence and ambition to achieve even more successes

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