Editorial: Adland hopes Tories are as good as their word

With Labour surely contemplating electoral defeat, the time has come for Britain's ad industry to contemplate the possibility of a new government and how it can best work with an incoming Conservative administration.

It's the pragmatic thing to do even though the parting of the ways won't be without a tinge of regret. During its years in power, Labour shed much of its suspicion that advertising was a malevolent force. Indeed, it came to office dedicated to the abolition of the Advertising Standards Authority and the introduction of statutory controls.

Since then, though, a more common-sense approach has prevailed and adland has cause to thank Labour for recognising the importance of the creative industries to Britain.

The problem - and one the industry will hope won't be perpetuated under the Conservatives - is that Labour never had a joined-up approach to advertising. One moment it would be praised as a driver of the economy, the next castigated for its perceived excesses.

The ministerial revolving door hasn't helped. There have been four culture secretaries in as many years, so it's little wonder there's been so much inconsistency over issues such as "top slicing" of the BBC licence fee and product placement. Jeremy Hunt, the shadow culture secretary, says there will be no such U-turns under David Cameron.

Industry leaders must do all they can to ensure his words are matched by actions. And Hunt has certainly been talking a good game, pledging, among other things, to review and remove legislation to allow local media, and particularly local TV, to flourish.

So far, so good. But it would be foolish to assume that a new Conservative regime would necessarily be the unwavering allies of advertising that previous ones were. It wasn't long ago that Cameron was damning advertising for "sexualising" children and was agreeing the time had come to consider a ban on marketing to them.

What's more, it's a near certainty that a General Election will result in a lot of new Tory MPs to whom the advertising case may have to be made all over again.


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