UK Advertisers want December election to bring ‘much-needed’ Brexit clarity

The UK is set to go to the polls on 12 December

The UK’s biggest advertising trade body has issued a stark statement saying it hopes the December general election proposed by MPs will finally bring marketers “clarity and certainty” around Brexit.

Further to a vote in the House of Commons yesterday – which has all but ensured a mid-December election – the Incorporated Society of British Advertisers (Isba) said the 3000 brands it represents have long been waiting on answers from the government on what Brexit actually means for their businesses.

The UK is set to go to the polls on 12 December after MPs backed Boris Johnson's call for an election following months of Brexit deadlock. The bill is still to be approved by the Lords but could become law by the end of the week.

“Our members have long sought certainty from government on Brexit – on data adequacy, standard contractual clauses and employment status. We hope that, following this further six weeks of uncertainty, much-needed clarity and certainty is delivered,” said Isba director general Phil Smith.

He also said that Isba, and its members, would be studying politicians manifestos “for clear commitments on evidence-led policy and the legitimate role of brands when it comes to tackling public health issues”.

The establishment of an independent regulator for social media platforms to tackle online harms and content regulation; recognising and strengthening the role of the advertising co-regulatory system; and proper funding for the Police Intellectual Property Crime Unit (Pipcu), would also feature high on the agenda for senior marketers, said Smith.

While advertisers will be looking for policies that seek to address these issues post-election, what is clear is that they are first and foremost seeking clarity over Britain’s exit from the EU. An eventual no-deal situation could prove to be catastrophic for the industry in particular, with Enders predicting that scenario would see ad land plunge into recession for the first time since 2008.

Earlier this month, the most recent IPA Bellwether report detailed how budgets had been cut in the last quarter due to political uncertainty and a lack of consumer confidence.

Back in March, ahead of the initial Brexit deadline, Isba’s director of public policy James Barge told The Drum that Isba was working with the government to ensure the “voice of advertisers” was heard. However, even then he conceded that the continued uncertainty would soon see the industry take a financial hit.

"Discussions are ongoing in order to highlight the fact that advertising and marketing are discretionary spends," Barge said six month ago."If the broader environment is disrupted then we will see impacts to the vibrancy and spend in our sector as well as disinvestment at a commercial level."

For his part, Smith also highlighted the issue of political ad regulation saying he hoped the myriad of claims made by politicians of all parties on posters, leaflets and, critically, online, abided to the same rules as advertisers: ensuring claims were “legal, decent, honest and truthful.”

He added: “It’s time they were held to the same standards. This election campaign comes too soon for this to be addressed, but the next parliament must ensure that this is resolved in legislation.”

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