Industry calls for action as Liz Truss takes on PM role

truss 2The marketing industry has urged new Prime Minister Liz Truss to help businesses through the tough times ahead as well as develop a strategic industrial strategy that will benefit the UK’s leading advertising, creative and professional services sectors.

Truss, who beat former Chancellor Rishi Sunak to become the new Conservative Party leader by securing 57% of valid votes cast, has already vowed to deliver a “bold plan”.

She will become Prime Minister on Tuesday after travelling to meet the Queen at Balmoral in Scotland and is understood to be considering a freeze on energy bills, with an announcement potentially scheduled for Thursday.

And, while Advertising Association director of public affairs Sue Eustace congratulated Truss on her appointment and said the trade body looked “forward to working with her Government to establish the best environment for the industry to thrive”, she insisted that the ad industry has a crucial role to play.

Eustace added: “In the hard times businesses face in the months ahead, investing in advertising can help grow businesses and position brands better in the market. Advertising also brings consumer benefits as it drives competition, innovation and consumer choice. These in turn help lower prices, helping people facing a cost-of-living squeeze.

“The UK is a global leader and exporter of advertising and marketing services. We have always attracted the best talent from across the globe, bringing business to the UK and creating more jobs for British citizens. The industry needs to be celebrated and championed for its creativity and contribution to the positioning of Global Britain in the world.

However, Eustace was quick to point out that the industry needs Government policies that can help advertising businesses through the tough times ahead.

She continued: “We need regulatory certainty, support for the ASA advertising self-regulatory system, and the scaling back of unnecessary regulatory intervention such as the HFSS advertising restrictions. It also means going further.”

“We encourage the Government to look, longer-term, at developing a strategic industrial strategy that will benefit the UK’s leading advertising, creative and professional business services sectors.

“Changes to skills policy, particularly the apprenticeship levy, will make a huge difference. Changes to immigration policy would enable companies to continue to attract the best global talent.

The AA also wants ministers to look at bigger-picture issues like clustering, tax policies and exports that could, in parallel with regulatory stability, help create the right conditions for future success.

Eustace concluded: “That should include a proper assessment of the proposal to privatise Channel 4, which has long been a crown jewel in the UK’s creative output on the world stage.”

Meanwhile, IPA direct general Paul Bainsfair added his congratulations but stressed: “Given the major issues facing the country, it cannot be helpful that we have had to wait two months since Boris Johnson announced his pending resignation.

“Liz Truss has the opportunity to be the first Prime Minister in recent times to be the ‘PM for growth and indeed for the ad industry’. At this time of economic uncertainty and as we face a cost of living crisis, we ask that she recognises the economic and other benefits that the UK ad industry brings to the UK.

“We also ask that she will protect our widely respected, self-funded, and world-leading self-regulatory system, and ensure that it is supported rather than undermined.

“The Online Advertising Programme, introduced by the previous Conservative Government, poses an unwelcome and unnecessary threat to the system, as does its introduction of HFSS ad bans through the Health & Care Act – with which we are glad Ms Truss disagrees – when the existing advertising rules in the CAP and BCAP Codes are already among the toughest in the world.”

Bainsfair continued: “We hope that Ms Truss will work with the UK ad industry on realising its global power. We would like her Government to acknowledge the success of the UK at exporting advertising services and that the UK is the industry’s global hub. UK advertising exports are currently valued at £11.7bn and with Government help, it could be far more.

“Another issue for Ms Truss to consider is how to improve the apprenticeship levy which is not working for companies, especially in light of the current pressures on talent recruitment at ad agencies, and how more can be done within education to foster creativity and open up advertising as a career path to young people.

“Other areas that we hope to work with the new Prime Minister on include the industry’s two key initiatives, Ad Net Zero – aimed at making the ad industry reach net zero by 2030, and the All In Action Plan – for building a more diverse and inclusive workforce.

“Lastly, we hope that our new Prime Minister can swiftly deliver on her promises of cancelling the planned rise in corporation tax, as well as introducing ‘low tax zones’ which will aid SMEs and start-ups, hopefully including ad agencies, in several parts of the country.”

The DMA has yet to comment on the appointment.

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