Business Leadership Inflation UK Government

UK government has no plans for an ad campaign asking brands to divert marketing spend


By Jennifer Faull, Deputy Editor

July 11, 2022 | 3 min read

News about a tax-payer-funded ad campaign that would encourage brands to divert their marketing spend into cost-saving initiatives caused outrage in the industry – but there were never any plans in the works for it, according to the UK government.

Marketing spend

The UK government isn’t asking brands to curb marketing spend

The BBC reported earlier this month that David Buttress, former Just Eat chief executive and ‘cost-of-living tsar’ to the government, would lead a campaign encouraging brands to cut their marketing spend and invest the money saved into lowering their prices.

If businesses got on board, they could use the name and logo of the initiative (which hadn’t been revealed) on their own branding.

The BBC said a taxpayer-funded advertising campaign to encourage brands to sign up would run this month.

This caused uproar in the industry. Phil Smith, director-general of Isba, described the proposal as “an extraordinary misfire.”

“The suggestion that brands cut back on their advertising spend, though, demonstrates the government’s lack of understanding of how advertising works – to make markets more efficient, improve competition, reward innovation and reduce prices,” he said.

Others pointed out the irony in running an ad campaign to tell brands to stop running ad campaigns.

But with chaos following the resignation of prime minister Boris Johnson – and Buttress’ boss Steve Barclay being promoted from chief of staff to health secretary – The Drum checked in on the plans for this rumored campaign and if it, like other initiatives, would be put on ice until the dust settled.

A government spokesperson confirmed there were in fact no plans to put budget behind a marketing push for Buttress’s work.

“Bringing in David Buttress as an unpaid cost-of-living tsar is the latest step taken by the government to ensure we’re doing everything we can to help people in this country with the rising cost of living,” they said.

“He will work in partnership with the private sector to identify, develop and promote new and existing business-led initiatives that support people by encouraging businesses to do more to highlight discounted prices or product offers.

“There are currently no plans to increase budgets for a marketing campaign on David Buttress’s work in government. His role will involve speaking to businesses where securing discounts and offers is feasible.”

Buttress’s job, they stressed, is focused on engaging businesses, not developing an ad campaign.

Business Leadership Inflation UK Government

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