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The big Brexit debate: Advertising Association, Time & Fortune, Maxus, and Bauer weigh in


By Jennifer Faull, Deputy Editor

April 20, 2016 | 4 min read

With the EU referendum a recurring topic at Advertising Week Europe, one extended session sought to debate some of the main issues. Here are the key takeaways

Peter Foster, Europe editor, The Telegraph - 'Don't trust the polls'

"All polls are a snapshot of time. I suspect if everyone woke up and voted on their smartphones at 9am this country would be about 60/40 for 'In'. But, that won’t happen. The vote will reflect people who go to vote. And it will depend on whether we get 50, 60, 70 per cent turnout and it will depend on how much differential there is between the 'Out' and 'In'camp in the way they turn out.

"If the Brexiteers are all fired up and ready to go and turnout disproportionately high on a low turnout, we’ll get a much higher chance of a Brexit. That’s the trouble with polls. It’s a massive unknown."

Tim Lefroy, chief executive, Advertising Association - 'The industry will continue to thrive'

"Part of my objective is to get through this conversation without declaring my view. What I am here to do is to talk about the UK's advertising industry’s immense power as an export industry. We export something like £4bn of services every year, second only to the United States in terms of scale.

"So I believe that UK advertising will be resilient in or out of the European Union."

Paul Keenan, chief executive, Bauer Media - 'We'll continue to invest'

"I sense the mood has changed from being midly confused, or amused, to Britain’s position in Europe and that emotion seems to have developed into genuine concern that we’re in a very divisive process and that we have a very powerful voice in Europe and that it might be lost. So I would say they are worried and concerned.

"No one on either side seems to be making positive arguments that seem to be resonating. I see no engagement in positive arguments. Bauer will continue to invest significantly in the UK regardless."

Linsey Pattison, chief executive, Maxus - 'Think about the talent'

"My European colleages are more worried, concerned, and emotional about the Brexit than my UK colelagues. I did a survey across Maxus Europe and we have 85 per cent in and 15 per cent out split. In the UK, that goes down to 82 per cent 'In' and for my European colleagues that went up to 95 per cent 'In'.

"Mobility is the key issue. We’re a talent business. That’s the only thing we’ve got as a service industry and a big part of them working for an advertising network is the idea of being able to work anywhere.

"Other than the Eurovision song contest, we need to talk about the positive things staying in Europe will bring us."

Rupert Turnbull, group international publisher, Time & Fortune - 'Better to be inside the tent'

"Europe has been fantastic for us. Yes there are problems, everyone is agreed on two things – there will be short term instability and that the EU isn’t working as well as it could - but it is better to be inside the tent.

"Brand Britain - whatever that is - walks the fine line between arrogance and confidence and I think if we leave we'll tip over. The only thing that matters is that we're investable. "

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