A view from Jeremy Lee

Voters could decide the fate of Scottish advertising

In case you've been living on the moon for the past six months or so, today marks the day when 5.3 million Scots will decide...

But with Rupert Murdoch (a naturalised and tax-efficient American citizen born in Australia but of Scottish descent) entering the fray and teasing us with his own opinion, the world is undoubtedly watching.

It’s tempting to think the "Aye" views of Groundskeeper Willie from the Fox-owned The Simpsons might represent Murdoch’s true thoughts, as he seeks to exact revenge on the Westminster elite for his humiliation in the Leveson Inquiry and for the alleged squiring of his ex-wife by a former political ally.

With the political class on both sides of the fence now resorting to the dirty, negative and, on occasion, ugly tactics of intimidation, and scaremongering showing the desperation of each bid, you’d hope that the advertising community would help fill the void of what is undoubtedly an emotional debate, both within and without Scotland.

An ad industry that has been enriched by Scottish talent and creativity will be denuded should the break-up go ahead

MT Rainey and Andrew McGuinness have attempted to create a more positive grassroots campaign with their Let’s Stay Together and Scottish Heartstrings initiatives, but whether this is enough to match the misty-eyed romanticism of Alex Salmond’s nostalgic but financially secure vision of a New Brigadoon, who knows? Either way, for the other parts of the Union, this is one question that can only be answered by the Proud Scots/Little Scotlanders (delete as appropriate). But the irony of its resolution happening on the 100th anniversary of so many soldiers from both sides of the border dying on the battlefields of France for our shared values hangs heavy.

As well as fuelling the desire for independence, previous attempts by desperate Westminster politicians to pacify the Scots and keep them as part of the Union haven’t really produced the results they have desired. As well as killing the independence debate once and for all, it was assumed that one consequence of devolution would be a new lease of life for Scottish agencies with the budgets of a devolved administration. This has done little to stop the rot of what has become an increasingly parochial Scottish advertising scene (witness the move of the SSE advertising account south of the border last year). Who knows whether complete independence will make any difference?

But an advertising industry as a whole that has been enriched by Scottish talent and creativity over the years will likely be denuded should the break-up go ahead and Scotland becomes more isolated still. I, for one, don’t find much to celebrate in that.

jeremy.lee@haymarket.com
@jezzalee

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