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Eurosceptic Boris Johnson as PM: adland reacts

23 Jul 2019  |   
Eurosceptic Boris Johnson as PM: adland reacts

As Boris Johnson succeeds Theresa May as prime minister, Britain now has a Brexiteer as its leader.

As he claimed victory on Tuesday, Johnson said that at such a pivotal moment in the UK's history, the Tory party must demonstrate its “historic ability to balance competing instincts – marrying the desire to maintain a close relationship with the EU, with the desire for democratic self-government in this country”.

However, ever since the UK voted to leave the EU in 2016, the country has been beset by political and economic uncertainty. This has impacted the value of the pound, the decision-making powers of businesses, and subsequently adspend levels and the deployment of marketing budgets.

Here, industry bosses react to the news.

Paul Bainsfair, Director General, IPA

As we saw in the latest IPA Bellwether Report, marketers are citing the Tory leadership contest as one of the key reasons, alongside the uncertainty regarding Brexit, for their decision not to expand their overall marketing budgets.

It is abundantly clear, therefore, that to unlock this stasis, our industry is urgently seeking clarity and confidence from its Prime Minister regarding the UK’s economic path.

We hope Mr Johnson can deliver this, alongside continuing to acknowledge and champion the value of the creative industries that generate more than £100bn a year to the UK economy and employ more than 2m people.

David Fletcher, Chief Data Officer, Wavemaker

Boris Johnson becoming the UK’s new PM is one less uncertainty to deal with. And as the pen dries on this appointment, over the coming weeks we are likely to see the true reality of Brexit unfold.

As far as the immediate impact it is having on the industry, there are indications - from IPA Bellwether, as well as the Purchasing Manager’s Index (PMI) - that advertisers are in a dual ‘now and not yet’ state. Quite simply they cannot put brand decisions on hold for any longer, but they need to retain an element of flexibility as things unfold. So, what we are seeing is a bigger investment in more mainstream media and digital brand activity, rather than sales promotion and direct marketing.

What the future will look like? Well, despite PMIs being muted there are several indicators towards optimism for the ‘phase after next’.

David Walsh, Chief Business Officer, Mindshare UK

Whilst Boris Johnson’s election as the UK’s next Prime Minister has long been written on the wall, his appointment is still likely to send ripples through the ad industry.

One thing he has in spades, and which the advertising industry thrives on, is his trademark optimism. Should Britain get behind him, it could arguably create an atmosphere of resilience, drive consumer motivation, and turbocharge the economy.

He has also long been a champion of creativity. During the London 2012 Olympics, as Mayor of London, he stated: "London's creative sector is the envy of the world". His apparent faith in the sector will no doubt give extra assurances to the industry.

Also, from a practical perspective, some will feel encouraged by his views on reviewing the current HFSS law. In alignment with the general industry opinion, Johnson believes that the legislative approach is not the way forward, and could damage spend unnecessarily.

However, as we near his “do or die” October 31st Brexit deadline, large advertisers will no doubt become cautious with spend, uncertain of what a ‘cliff-edge’ No Deal Britain could look like.

Ultimately, much of Boris' success as Prime Minister will hinge on who he appoints as his cabinet ministers. The advertising industry, like all others, will be watching very closely to see which direction he takes.

Jon Mew, CEO, IAB UK

It’s no secret that political stability is central to maintaining a healthy economy – which is good for everyone, ad industry included. You only have to look at the latest IPA Bellwether report to see the impact that political uncertainty can have on marketing bottom lines.

Brexit is of course a massive factor in this and, while it’s too soon to tell what direction the new Government will take, a smooth exit from the EU is key to maintaining our competitive, world-leading digital advertising market. We will continue to support our members to help ensure their businesses are prepared for all eventualities.

From our perspective, it’s also hugely important that the new Government maintains a joined-up and consistent approach to industry regulation and we look forward to working closely with the DCMS to help build a sustainable future for digital advertising.

Phil Smith, Director General, ISBA

We congratulate Boris Johnson on his appointment as Prime Minister. Much new UK legislation and regulation is being considered which will impact the advertising industry and ISBA has been working with government to ensure the voice of advertisers is considered in its thinking.

We hope this will continue under Mr Johnson’s leadership. Brexit remains a critical issue for all our members and we would join the many business voices urging the Prime Minister to address the current uncertainty as a priority.

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Thank you for your comment - a copy has now been sent to the Mediatel Newsline team who will review it shortly. Please note that the editor may edit your comment before publication.

NigelJacklin, MD, on 24 Jul 2019
“Glad to hear he reads the FT (as per yesterday's 'winner speech').”


22 May 2020 

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