Adspend up 4.2% after Brexit vote but culture secretary Karen Bradley has questions to answer, says Ad Association

Advertising Association/Warc Expenditure Report

UK adspend rose 4.2% in the quarter following the vote to leave the European Union (EU), an increase the Advertising Association (AA) has said shows the industry is “defying uncertainty” caused by the referendum.

The AA's findings were released today (26 January) as part of the AA’s annual LEAD conference where Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport Karen Bradley will give her first address to the industry since she was appointed by prime minister Theresa May last year.

“Ad spend serves not just as an established bellwether for the wider economy, but as a driver of jobs and GDP growth, so negotiating the best possible terms for UK advertising should be a priority as government engineers our exit from the EU,” said Stephen Woodford, chief executive of the Advertising Association.

Consequently, the big issue for the industry is how its position - pre-and post-Brexit - is maintained. More than £40bn-worth of advertising services are exported from the UK throughout Europe, with trade bodies quick to stress the sector’s economic value to ministers so that the government is cognisant of what it needs to do to protect it going into the Brexit negotiations.

As such, Bradley is expected to comment on some of the key priorities for the industry as outlined by the AA, including an immigration policy that will work for the industry, the negotiation of the UK’s position on various media and advertising-related EU rules to ensure as much market access as possible as well as the continued support of advertising’s self-regulation.

The AA’s arguments have been compounded by figures from Deloitte and Credos which show advertising contributed £120.4bn to GDP in 2015, and supports over 550,000 jobs.

"As an established global creative hub with both very strong creative and technology credentials, the UK should, with the right government support, be able to make the most of a lot of opportunities, both in Europe and internationally,” said Johnny Hornby, chief executive of The&Partnership.

And he has been at the coalface of some of these early opportunities; Hornby’s The&Partnership won one of the biggest accounts in its four-year history just months after the referendum that saw Toyota move its business from a Paris-based network in Publicis to a London-based group.

Despite this, separate data from advertising think-tank Credos and Deloitte found that one fifth (22%) of the 200 businesses it surveyed had reported lost business or contracts since the vote and six out of ten respondents (62%) felt the decision had negatively affected the outlook for their businesses. A post-Brexit was foreshadowed in the week after the referendum when some ad agencies admitted that marketers either pulled or paused advertising spend in an attempt to protect themselves from the economic uncertainty.

This article will be updated with comments from key industry figures and Karen Bradley at LEAD 2017.

Get The Drum Newsletter

Build your marketing knowledge by choosing from daily news bulletins or a weekly special.