Magazine article Marketing

Mark Kleinman on Marketing and the City: In the Balance

Magazine article Marketing

Mark Kleinman on Marketing and the City: In the Balance

Article excerpt

With the tough decisions required on cutting the deficit, the City's main fear is of a hung parliament.

As political posters go, the image of a glowering Gordon Brown accompanied by the slogan 'Step outside, posh boy' was one of the more striking executions of the past few years.

Those who fell for The Guardian story about Labour's aggressive approach to the forthcoming election campaign, failed to notice the date on the masthead: 1 April.

Ironically, the mocked-up poster was more memorable than the genuine ads produced by Labour and the Conservatives during their initial skirmishes prior to the campaign proper.

Now that Gordon Brown has formally called the election for 6 May, the battle begins in earnest. While the direct impact of the parties' advertising may be marginal, there is a clear case to argue that, in 2010, the marketing of the protagonists is more important than any election of recent times.

The reasons for this are not directly related to the advertising industry, although the recruitment of M&C Saatchi to the Conservatives' cause does add a delicious spice to a contest in which Labour has retained the services of Saatchi & Saatchi.

What has almost come to matter most to those with an interest in the UK's economic recovery is not necessarily who wins, but simply that somebody does.

As the Conservative Party's once-commanding lead in opinion polls has dwindled, albeit with occasional signs of recovery, the sense of nervousness among businesspeople and in the City has become almost palpable. That is why the odds on a second general election in 2010 are narrowing.

The prospect of a hung parliament is one that dominates the conversations I am having at the moment with captains of industry. They worry that such an outcome would delay the tough and urgent decisions about public spending cuts that are necessary if the government's recent borrowing binge is to begin being addressed.

They are also fearful that decisions critical to the future of Britain's competitiveness in, for example, the area of corporate taxation, will simply be fudged by an administration unable to find a consensus on contentious issues.

In the City, there is another direct cause for alarm: the effect on sterling of a hung parliament (or, equally, a new government that does not spell out in short order, word by word, how it intends to tackle the budget deficit). The major credit-rating agencies have indicated that for the UK to retain its prized triple-A rating, firm plans will need to be outlined soon after the election. …

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