Theresa May stands down as Brexit uncertainty still looms over UK ad industry

PM May resigns

Theresa May is to stand down as the prime minister of the UK by 7 June, opening up a leadership battle in her party and potentially a general election.

Speaking on Friday 24 May, May said she has "deep regret" at not being able to deliver a feasible Brexit deal. She said she had done "everything I can" to garner cross party support for her deal but had reached a point where it was now in the "best interests of the country for a new prime minister to lead that effort".

The future economic prospects of the nation remain in flux. Nonetheless, to date, UK ad spend has remained buoyant according to recent figures from the Advertising Association (AA).

With a Conservative leadership race, and a potential general election looming, there is now more uncertainty for marketers and the brands unsure what economic prospects await them.

Christie Dennehy-Neil, head of policy and regulatory affairs at IAB UK, told The Drum: “When it comes to digital advertising – as with all industries – what business needs is stability and certainty, particularly on the outcome of Brexit. We are yet to see whether the departure of Theresa May will bring this about, but in the meantime IAB UK will continue to work closely with its members and government to ensure any policy developments support a sustainable future for digital advertising.”

James Barge, Isba director of public policy, told The Drum: "A new prime minister and a new government have the opportunity to renew their approach to policy. All too often we see headlines coming ahead of the evidence. For issues like HFSS, we would hope to see government take a sensible pause to re-engage with both the evidence and stakeholders, before charting a way forward to address the shared desire to halve childhood obesity by 2030.

"On issues like platform regulation, we want to see the focus continue on finding a sensible regulatory structure and framework that provides certainty to advertisers, consumers and regulators. We also look forward to continuing our work on issues like child sexual exploitation and terrorist content with whoever the new PM chooses to sit in their cabinet. Regardless of who leads the government, these are all issues that need to be addressed and ones that continue to be our focus."

Numerous ad trade bodies have previously indicated to The Drum that the concerns are mounting around the state of the UK’s EU withdrawal, with Isba predicting "brand disinvestment" amid the upheaval.

An Enders Analysis forecast published earlier this year claimed a no-deal Brexit would plunge the ad industry into its first recession in a decade, underlining the value of outlining the future path of the nation.

Paul Bainsfair, director general at the Institute of Practitioners in Advertising (IPA), previously told The Drum: “Over and above the political issue, the continued uncertainty is giving many of our members cause for concern from the point of view of their clients who, understandably, are more reluctant to commit to activity than they would otherwise be.”

After Brexit, whatever that may entail, brands have been urged by top marketers to "fill the vacuum" and not to suffer from a fear of spending.

Earlier this week, Chris Moody, chief design officer at Wolff Olins, explored the branding tips Change UK could learn from the "evil genius" Brexit party.

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