Magazine article Marketing

News Analysis: Uncertain Alliance

Magazine article Marketing

News Analysis: Uncertain Alliance

Article excerpt

Will Gordon Brown be good for advertisers? Gemma Charles reports from the annual Labour Party conference.

Last week's Labour Party conference gave the marketing industry the opportunity to take the political temperature of prime minister Gordon Brown and gauge his government's stance on advertising.

Although speculation about an early election set tongues wagging in Bournemouth, there was also much discussion about the role of advertisers. Major speeches, fringe sessions and evening functions all provided clues as to whether Brown's administration poses a threat or opportunity for marketers.

Brown's upbringing as the son of a Presbyterian minister has emerged as a key motivator, as seen early in his premiership by his U-turn on super-casino policy and the introduction of a 9pm watershed for gambling ads. He trailed his conference speech with interviews espousing a tough stance on underage drinking and reviews of restrictions on the advertising and promotion of alcohol and 24-hour licensing.

In his speech to conference, Brown rounded on the alcohol industry, calling on it to 'do more to advertise the dangers of teenage drinking' While the new leader's flurry of rhetoric may be genuine, cracking down on perceived vices gives him a chance to win over the middle-Englanders, who, if the Daily Telegraph and Daily Mail are to be believed, are still unsure about Conservative leader David Cameron.

Baroness Buscombe, chief executive of the Advertising Association and a Conservative peer, who attended the conference, told Marketing it is too early to tell whether Brown's government will support the marketing industry. However, Marketing Society chief executive Hugh Burkitt detects a shift in government thinking toward social conservatism - a trend that worries him. 'What most marketers are after is maximum choice and individual freedom,' he says.

On the other side of the fence, Richard Watts, the campaign co-ordinator for the Children's Food Campaign pressure group, has a similar impression of the mood of the conference, though he sees this as reason for cheer. 'There's a sense that this administration is less willing to trust industry to sort out social problems than Blair's. The argument for self-regulation carries less weight,' he says.

Worryingly for marketers, sources with links to Brown's advisers claim he does not feel the need to cozy up to the business world, as he already won it over during his time as Chancellor.

The theme of obesity, especially in children, is still high on the agenda, with ministers from many departments broaching the subject. …

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