UK’s Advertising Association saddles up to help creative industries, defends gambling ads

Nobody yet really knows what the impact of Covid-19 will be on advertising, marketing and media (or, indeed, anything else) but it is certain to be sharp and painful.

The UK’s Advertising Association, which these days does a pretty good job of standing up for its stakeholders, is launching a campaign to persuade the Government to assist the UK’s creative industries – a big contributor to the Exchequer – by, among measures, tax credits. Essentially reductions in tax or rebates in return for marketing spend.

AA CEO Stephen Woodford (below) says: “We are working closely with Government to protect and rebuild the UK’s advertising industry, both within the UK as a vital engine of our economy, but also as a global hub with international trading partners. Top of the list is how a tax credit for advertising could help get the UK economy rapidly firing on all cylinders again.

“We also need to see the most ambitious international marketing campaign possible from Government for our creative industries, particularly with Brexit looming. We are ready to make all of this happen fast and with real impact.”

This is a pretty tough ask, with the Government’s coffers (including borrowing capability) reducing rapidly. But the AA offers a worst case scenario of 400,000 job losses in the sector and a £1.4bn reduction in weekly revenue. This looks somewhat toppy but the services sector of the economy, in which the creative industries reside, is by the far the UK’s most successful and the biggest source of exports.

High profile health secretary Matt Hancock used to toil at the Department of Culture, Media and Sport. Maybe, if Dominic Cummings moves him on, he can turn his attentions back to creative industries.

The AA has also found itself defending the gambling industry (now that is a tough ask) following the publication of a report by the All Party Parliamentary Group on Gambling Related Harm calling for a ban on advertising.

Woodford again: “Now more than ever, it is essential that all parts of the advertising industry fulfil their responsibilities to the highest standards to the UK, both economically and socially. We ask all gambling operators and their agencies to continue to adhere to the strict standards set by the ASA and the Gambling Commission. These rules clearly require gambling operators to be socially responsible and to protect the vulnerable, as well as under 18s. The codes are under regular and rigorous review in line with the evidence.

“As new evidence emerges, the ASA and Gambling Commission consider this and amend the rules if they believe the evidence supports change. At this time, we believe a total ban is not necessary – such an action has wide implications, particularly for the support of sports across media channels, something enjoyed by millions of people right across the UK.”

History seems to show that there’s no point in banning gambling but the antics of some of the nation’s bookies are well beyond the pale. Yes there’s a code but they are adept at driving the proverbial coach and horses through it. When they get caught out they just say sorry (usually) and move on. It’s like herding cats.

But we now have a sports industry hooked on gambling revenue, as are the sports broadcasters. Banning gambling ads now would hit the latter very hard indeed (plus many agencies.) But a ban will come one day.

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About Stephen Foster

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Stephen is a former editor of Marketing Week and London Evening Standard advertising columnist. He wrote City Republic for Brand Republic and is a partner in communications consultancy The Editorial Partnership.

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