Economy

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Creative Opinions: The Snap UK General Election

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When Theresa May announced yesterday morning (18 April, 2017) that it was her intention to hold a snap general election in the UK on June 8 (a move that was since validated earlier today by a vote of 522 to 13), the UK media did what it always does. It went into overdrive. As such, chances are that within a week or so you'll all be absolutely sick to the gills of election coverage, so I thought I'd capitalise on the still fresh waters of enthusiasm by examining what a few creative individuals thought of the news.

Kevin Chesters, Chief Strategy Officer at Ogilvy & Mather

It'll be a good early test of recent BBC/Google/Facebook initiatives to combat fake news. It's the first post-filter bubble UK general election so I think we'll all be a little more aware of searching outside our comfort zones. If I were the parties I'd be focusing on the first law of communication - one simple, remarkable, repeatable message. What and where is the equivalent of ‘Yes we can’ or ‘Make America great again’? The Lib Dems, for example, are the only party with one clear message - are you one of the 48% who didn't want a hard Brexit? We're the only opposing party.

Ian Barber, Director of Communications at the Advertising Association

Our big message to government is that our sector is a case study in what our country needs post-Brexit. We need the government focused on some of the tricky negotiations based around access to talent. There’s nothing in our conversations that suggest they don’t understand how important it is to get this right for business. It’s in no one’s interest to come up with an immigration policy that undermines a global success story.

Justin Deaville, Managing Director at Receptional

My view is that uncertainty is a killer for the ad industry. We saw a slowdown after the Brexit decision. Which was unwelcome. Usually elections create a similar level of uncertainty, and we see advertisers holding back on spend until they know the result. In this case, there's only a few weeks until polling day. So any uncertainty should be short lived. And, if we believe recent poll results, the result of this election is likely to be 'more of the same'. So, we're assuming that most advertisers will feel secure enough to carry on spending as planned.

Arabella Lewis-Smith, Founder and Managing Director at Salad

If the Conservative party win, they will have a mandate to take the country through Brexit which will mean they will be in a stronger position. One of the issues is that we have an unelected Prime Minister negotiating our Brexit deal. If they win, they’ll be in a much stronger position to negotiate on behalf of the British people. In terms of the impact on our industry, I actually think the answer is two-fold. On the one hand, Brexit has given us a weaker pound being famous for our cultural and creative output - our services are more attractive to foreign buyers than ever before. On the flip side, we have a number of businesses who have pledged to leave and have already started leaving the UK. This could mean potentially less opportunities to see our marketing services used by prestigious British brands. But we’ll have to wait and see.

Gerry McCusker, CEO at Dog

With the announcement of the snap general election, we find ourselves facing yet more political change. However, as the past couple of years have shown us, change is the new norm. As business leaders, we’ll do what we always do during this type of climate: carry on – seeking out opportunities and continuing to build sustainable businesses. The General Election may throw up a few surprises across the UK. Or it may not. What’s certain is that we’re set to be subjected to heavy campaigning from all parties over the next seven weeks. On the upside, the run up to the election will be brief. And, at the end of it all, as in the wake of the European Referendum decision, I’m confident that our digital industries will be as thriving as ever post-election.

Richard Buchanan, Managing Director and Founder at The Clearing

We might not have seen Theresa May’s announcement coming but we sure as hell know what to expect. It’s been less than two years since the last general election and just ten short months since the UK voted for Brexit. It‘s this recent history that leads us to expect more of what we saw in 2015 and 2016, in 2017. And by ‘more of the same,’ I mean, more uncertainty. Experience tells us that periods of political and economic uncertainty invariably translates into cautious behaviour amongst clients and brands. In turn giving rise to a culture of ‘wait and see’ that strips momentum from important and significant projects – especially within our area of branding. The net result of which usually leads to a downgrading of growth projections among agency leaders. The only distinction I’d draw this time around is the opportunistic nature of the ‘snap’ election. Seven weeks from now it will all be done and dusted, and unless the government suffers a knockout blow, which is hard to see given the current political landscape, agency life will return to normal just as quickly as it slowed. However, should a new government be formed, the uncertainty will continue throughout the second half of the year. So, what does it mean more specifically for us at The Clearing? Quite simply, there will be less project work around in the short-term, and competition to win significant projects will be even higher than is currently the case – which is already extremely high.

David Beresford, Director at That Lot

Anything that creates greater uncertainty for the economic outlook can have a negative impact on budgets, including marketing. But having already dealt with Brexit, the US election and the new Trump world order this shouldn't cause that many ripples. And major national events do create opportunities for great topical content (looking on the bright side!)

Michael Moszynski, Founder and CEO at London Advertising

As TV advertising is not an option available to political parties in the UK, I think it will mean more revenue for Facebook video – Google and Youtube advertising has been mired. As there is only seven weeks to the poll and it is a genuine ‘snap’ election there is little time to invest in other media. I would nonetheless advise a party to invest in classic posters – both digital and printed – to raise awareness quickly. Prediction wise, I believe the only question is how big the Conservative majority will be. I would expect anything less than a 100 seat majority will be seen as a disappointment, so that is the target for the Conservatives. As we already have a Conservative majority Government, there will be little else to impact on the agency sector. The bigger the majority the more confidence the business community will have in Brexit outcomes so that will help our sector.

Katya Linossi, Managing Director and Co-founder at ClearPeople

Whatever side of the fence you sit on with regards to Brexit, this is a momentous time in our collective history. News of the snap general election doesn’t really come as too much of a surprise to us as Mrs May wants to secure legitimacy for her policies. I feel that for business, it’s actually a positive thing – if Mrs May is elected (and polls suggest this will be the case), her negotiating power will increase and we should hopefully get the confidence that we will have a government who can get the very best deal for the UK once we leave the European Union. Plus, the value of the pound has already slightly increased since the announcement so this can only be a good thing! Working in the digital communications industry, times like this see the importance of communication come to the fore - whether that is internally communicating with your staff to provide information and reassurance, or communicating externally with your customers to keep them abreast of your latest updates and future plans. We are a proud European company, with just under 50% of our employees coming from the European Union so I certainly want the security and certainty that our colleagues can continue to stand strongly together, united, supported and cared for.

Mally Graveson, Managing Director at Heehaw

Wow – a snap general election. This is a master stroke from the Conservative Party, and has come at exactly the right time. The Tories have seized the initiative and taken the opportunity to pounce on this feeling of uncertainty (nationally and internationally) and win more seats to ensure they will be the dominant force in Westminster for years to come. What advice would I give the other parties? For some, it’s about serious damage limitations, but for others, it surely must be about promoting yourselves as a different alternative to the conservative way of thinking. They all must stand up, fight, and for the first time, in my opinion, offer a real alternative to our current government. Be bold, be different and be honest. And good luck!

Michael Scantlebury, Founder and Creative Director at IMPERO

Uncertainty isn't good for businesses, so I expect to see a bit of pull back and waiting before pulling the trigger on campaigns from a wider industry point of view. However brave brands will continue to be brave and make the most of it. The BrewDog's or the Beefeater Gins of this world will have an angle and make the most of it I would expect. And they'll take the share of voice while others sit on their hands. The election will bring uncertainty, but you can be certain brave brands will prosper no matter what.

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