Former marketer Donelan is new UK Culture Secretary

Michelle DonelanThe advertising and marketing industry will be quietly breathing a collective sigh of relief following Liz Truss’ appointment of former marketer Michelle Donelan as the new Culture Secretary, succeeding the person who many saw as the sector’s nemesis, Nadine Dorries.

Before going into politics Donelan worked in the media industry, having started her career in Australia for Pacific Magazines on Marie Claire and then going to work for The History Channel. She later had a spell at World Wrestling Entertainment as international marketing communications manager.

After being elected MP for Chippenham in 2015, Donelan served as an assistant whip and was then appointed a Government whip in July 2019. In September 2019, she was appointed parliamentary under-secretary for children to cover maternity leave for Kemi Badenoch.

In the February 2020 cabinet reshuffle, Donelan became Minister of State for Universities and a year later her role was renamed Minister of State for Higher & Further Education, with the added right to attend Cabinet.

Donelan was briefly promoted to Education Secretary in the last hours of the Johnson era, resigning just two days later to make her the shortest serving cabinet member in British history.

At the DCMS, she has a bulging in-tray, with many major issues including the Data Protection & Digital Information Bill 2022-23, whose second reading was postponed earlier this week; the junk food (HFSS) advertising restrictions; the delayed Online Safety Bill; the future of Channel 4, and the upcoming BBC license fee review, among others.

Even so, the industry will no doubt just be pleased to see the back of Dorries and the appointment of “one of its own”.

IPA director general Paul Bainsfair said: “This is our eleventh Culture Secretary in ten years and our industry needs the stability that a long-term holder of the office can provide.

“Michelle Donelan will take up the new role with several pressing issues to contend with, including: the planned privatisation of Channel 4, impending HFSS advertising legislation, the Online Harms Bill, the Online Advertising Programme and the Gambling Review White Paper, to name some examples. It is vital that she is willing to work with our industry to find solutions that will benefit the economy and wider society.

“We hope that she will take an active and positive interest in the advertising industry, recognising our importance to UK jobs, culture, and the economy. As the cost of living crisis continues, the new Secretary of State should take note of the great value that we can provide as an employer, a job creator, an exporter and as a partner for the Government.

“Now is the time to work together, and we will be reaching out in the coming weeks to request a meeting with her.”

Meanwhile DMA chief executive Chris Combemale said: “We strongly encourage Ms Donelan to carry forward the UK Data Protection & Digital Information Bill with urgency.

“This is a timely opportunity to support business growth by reducing red tape and offering greater clarity on data laws. In particular, we hope to establish further clarity over the use of legitimate interest as a means of processing personal data for marketing purposes.

“We look forward to securing these vital reforms for the data and marketing industry in partnership with the Secretary of State and DCMS ministers.”

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