George Osborne warns ad industry: ‘Make your voice heard in Brexit negotiations or you’ll be forgotten’

George Osborne has issued a warning to the advertising industry that as Brexit negotiations begin it will have to engage more with the government and ensure its voice is “loud” and “heard” or risk being forgotten about.

Speaking at an event held by the Advertising Association last night (11 July), the former chancellor of the exchequer – now editor of the Evening Standard – described the advertising sector as “incredibly important” and “an enormous employer across the country, a source of creative talent and provider of substantial exports”.

“You shouldn’t be shy about making your voice heard,” he said. “It’s a big and important industry and [the Advertising Association] and its members have a job to do to make sure its needs are met and understood. That is particularly important now with Brexit.”

The advertising industry has historically worked at arm’s-length with the government; it doesn’t, for example, have an all-party parliamentary group. Instead, it champions self-regulation and works closely with third-party regulatory bodies such as Ofcom.  

As Brexit negotiations commence, advertising’s loose ties with government could prove problematic.

Compare the relationship to, for instance, the car manufacturing industry, which is heavily regulated and as such has already been sitting down with various government departments to ensure its concerns are heard, issues understood and taken into consideration.

“Make sure the ad industry has its voice heard and don’t be afraid to spell out the consequences if those interests are not taken into consideration,” said Osborne.

“And I’m afraid it’s going to require you to make your voice loud, because I suspect as the government is buffeted from one turn in the negotiation to another it will be the industries really able to articulate their concerns that will find themselves at the top of the agenda.

“It needs your association more than at any point in its history to make its voice heard.” 

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