Editorial: Government's peripheral vision for creative Britain

The Tories set up a taskforce to look at how London can be transformed into the creative capital of the world.

But no ad industry figure sits on it. Political heavyweights mount the podium at the Digital Britain Summit to laud the country's creative geniuses and stress their import- ance in driving the UK towards online nirvana. Yet not a single adperson sat on any of the summit discussion panels.

On the face of it, their absence seems odd. After all, isn't UK advertising creativity a world leader? And isn't it the work of London agencies that gave it such a status? What's more, how can Digital Britain become a reality without the content that advertising will play a large part in funding?

In the circumstances, it might be easy to conclude that advertising is being marginalised by politicians who dislike it or don't understand its relevance. That, however, fails to take into account the distance the industry needs to travel to get itself heard in political circles. When ministers talk of the creative industries, they are thinking mainly of design, music and fashion. Government has long-held relationships with these sectors because all, at various times, have needed government money to sustain them. The ad industry has never had to go cap-in-hand to Whitehall or much felt the need to go out of its way to foster relationships with it.

Improving those relationships is slow work. The Government is taking interest in the IPA-inspired Creative Britain initiative and, this week, the IPA links with the Advertising Producers Association for a UK ad festival in Shanghai. The event is being supported with some modest funding from the Government-backed UK Trade & Investment.

All grist to the mill, of course, but industry leaders suggest it may be up to five years before advertising is as central to government thinking as the other creative industries.

Meanwhile, having won the backing of influential players such as Andy Burnham, the Culture Secretary, the industry will not want to be seen cuddling up too close to the Tories.

Rising up the value chain with the Government would clearly be much easier were it not for the politics.

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