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‘Reasons for optimism’: what the industry makes of Rishi Sunak as prime minister

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By Hannah Bowler, Senior reporter

October 24, 2022 | 4 min read

As the UK gets ready for its third prime minister in the space of seven weeks, The Drum asked ad industry trade bodies for their thoughts on yet another leader. Here’s what they had to say.

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Rishi Sunak MP / www.gov.uk

There seems to be some optimism among industry bodies that Sunak can be a stabilizing force. The markets appear to reflect this optimism, as the pound jumped 0.4% against the US dollar to $1.13 as Sunak’s victory became more likely.

A new prime minister and cabinet again could upend incoming policy affecting the advertising sector including Channel 4’s sale, HFSS regulation, new GDPR rules and the online harms bill.

Here’s what the industry’s trade bodies make of his appointment.

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Alastair McCapra, chief executive officer, Chartered Institute of Public Relations

Perhaps there are reasons to be optimistic. The scandals that brought down Boris Johnson and the failed gamble with our economy by Liz Truss have left the Conservative Party desperate to once again prove its competence. And quickly.

PR and marketing professionals understand the challenging environment we are working in but, rather than having to navigate around the political crisis of the last three months, we can now turn attention to doing what we do best; creatively finding solutions to support the public at this challenging time and boosting the economy with strong business performance.

Sue Eustace, director of public affairs, Advertising Association

We [AA] would like to congratulate the Rt Hon Rishi Sunak MP on his succession as prime minister and look forward to working with him and his team in due course. We are entering a period of economic uncertainty, and recent events have shown that the cost of living and the impact of interest rates are still very much at the forefront of the challenges we face.

We are keen to learn more about the government’s plans to stabilize market conditions to set the ground for future growth of the advertising and marketing sector, with its creativity, dynamism and export success.

However, we do need to work with the government to address immediate and long-term issues affecting our sector. If we can get the right policies, we can unlock those barriers to fulfill that potential and do our part to get the UK back on a path of sustainable and green growth.

Paul Bainsfair, director general, Institute of Practitioners in Advertising

We hope that this brings to an end the political turmoil that has caused so much damage to the country and that Rishi Sunak will be able to provide the financial acumen, clarity, certainty and confidence that we are seeking from the government.

Firm foundations allow our agencies to make more solid, longer-term plans to build and grow their businesses and those of their clients. On top of that, we are of course still keen to engage with the government further on the significant issues affecting our industry, including HFSS regulation, the Online Advertising Programme and the privatization plans for Channel 4.

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