Nadine Dorries says she will ‘make the UK the safest place in the world to go online’ at Renew conference

Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries took a break from bashing the BBC and bigging up Boris Johnson to speak at the ad industry’s annual conference about her plans for regulating online advertising.

In characteristically upbeat fashion, she offered a rosy picture of the future and boldly promised that the UK would be “the safest place in the world to go online,” but didn’t take any questions.

When she presents the online safety bill to parliament this spring, Dorries expects to have a solution to the “opaque” and “complex” online supply system, where ads can so easily be targeted at children and vulnerable groups. She said: “We want to get under the bonnet and shine a light on these issues. We want to ensure that today’s ad world is as accountable as yesterday’s.”

Chiefly, though, she wants to avoid HFSS-style government regulation, and hopes to achieve this by “empowering regulators” and putting a focus on the role of online platform and intermediaries, “looking at how they disseminate advertising online and how they can take greater responsibility for this role.”

The Renew conference, which is run jointly by the Advertising Association, the IPA and ISBA, was opened by new Ad Association president and Tesco chief customer officer, Alessandra Bellini.

Bellini introduced her presidency with the launch of a “talent taskforce” to make the advertising industry more competitive in the battle for talent. This will include a salary review and lobbying for government support by making the case that professional advertising and marketing bodies play a key role in equipping the UK workforce with strategic, business and digital skills.

With reference to a Tesco shopping list, Bellini provided a checklist for making the ad industry the most desirable place to work in the UK: strong values and integrity; a fulfilling career; fair remuneration; you don’t have to know someone to get on; and the colleagues are helpful.

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About Emma Hall

Emma Hall is a journalist and editorial consultant and is the former Europe Editor of Ad Age, where she covered European marketing advertising, digital and media stories. She has written for newspapers including the Financial Times, The Guardian, The Times and the Telegraph, and was previously a section editor at Campaign. Emma started her career in New York as a researcher for a biography of Keith Richards.