- The Conservative Party leader, William Hague, this week sounded a wringing endorsement of the ad industry as he sought to position the Tories as its natural ally in Westminster.
But he warned it to be on its guard against threats to self-regulation and called for agencies not to be tied down by red tape and over-taxation.
Speaking to industry representatives at the Advertising Association's annual lunch at London's Savoy hotel, Hague cited this week's record adspend figures (CampaignLive, 17 May) as proof of the industry's "tremendous success story".
And he told his audience: "When we talk about digital TV and the Internet, we should remember that nobody could pay for these things if it wasn't for you."
Recalling his party's "famous associations" with the industry in the past, Hague said both had been in the process of re-inventing themselves to adapt to an age where businesses were becoming small and flexible and traditional brand loyalties had broken down.
"I want your industry to take full advantage of the enterprise culture," he added.
But Hague claimed the culture, as personified by the ad industry, was threatened by a Labour government that was over-regulating and taxing heavily.
He swung his party's support firmly behind efforts to thwart Sweden's attempt to extend its ban on TV advertising to children across the EU and to overthrow Greece's restrictions on TV toy promotion.
"We have always believed in freedom of commercial speech, but regulation is a big threat to your industry," he said. "We must make sure that self-regulation continues."