With just two weeks to go until the general election, it is still far from certain which political party will form the next UK government and who will be the next prime minister. And with Labour and the Conservatives neck and neck on poll ratings, which suggests neither party would have a majority in the House of Commons, big questions remain over whether the UK will be led by another coalition. Even if party leaders try their best to assure voters that their policies are desirable and can be paid for, many areas could be subject to compromise in any future political arrangement.
Such uncertainty comes at a time when big decisions affecting the ad industry could be made by those next in power, whether about regulation, data protection, media competition or a referendum on Britain’s membership of the European Union. All of the parties are pushing a responsibility agenda – from proposing bans on junk-food ads before the watershed to reducing children’s exposure to sexualised content online. But is there an obvious choice from the industry’s perspective?
Cilla Snowball, group chairman and group chief executive, Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO
"All parties push the responsibility agenda: the Tories will reduce children’s exposure to harmful content online, Labour will set ‘maximum limits on salt, sugar and fat in foods marketed to children’ and the Lib Dems intend to slap a 9pm watershed on ‘junk food’ advertising but commit to ‘tackle gender stereotyping and early sexualisation’. Adland would probably be best-served by the grandest of coalitions, featuring the blues’ commitment to self-regulation, the reds’ vision for responsible business and diverse talent, and the yellows’ ambition to make the UK a world leader in digital industries."
Ian Twinn, director of public affairs, ISBA
"Both of the main parties have got the potential to be very helpful to adland. But the danger comes from the Scottish National Party, who have been talking about effective bans on alcohol and soft-drink ads before 9pm. The SNP approach would be to take away the 120 index that protects children from watching alcohol ads at any time of the day. But there are two problems. One, who’s going to pay for the programmes before 9pm if you are banning whole sectors? Second, how many young people are watching TV by appointment? Most children are watching on screens that are not TVs, so it’s a bit of technological nonsense."
Paul Bainsfair, director-general, IPA
"I wouldn’t want to tell anyone how to vote but, from what we’ve seen of the manifestos, what they’ve said leading up to the election and past behaviour, the Conservatives look like the most friendly party for the ad industry. It is a fact that most Labour MPs are a little more hostile to the industry in their views. That said, both Labour and the Conservatives seem to have got the message that the creative industry and the digital economy are vital to the growth of the economy at large. So I’m more optimistic that both will be more favourably disposed to the industry than in the past."
Christie Dennehy-Neil, public policy manager, Internet Advertising Bureau
"The parties seem to agree on the need to maximise the benefits of technology for government, the economy and society. Giving everyone the skills and infrastructure to access content and services online can only be good for digital advertising – offering us informed and tech-savvy consumers and skilled marketers, coders, engineers and entrepreneurs. But it will take a joint effort to ensure we create dot.everyone – not dot.some. Regardless of the election outcome, getting a balanced and proportionate set of data protection reforms in Europe remains the top priority for digital advertising."