Magazine article Marketing

Opinion: The Marketing Society Forum - Has the Coalition Government Started Asking Too Much of Advertisers?

Magazine article Marketing

Opinion: The Marketing Society Forum - Has the Coalition Government Started Asking Too Much of Advertisers?

Article excerpt

Health secretary Andrew Lansley has called on brands to turn their in-kind support for public health campaigns into financial backing, holding out the prospect of lighter-touch regulation in return.


You don't have to be Poirot to work out that the budget deficit means that the government is not merely unwilling but, frankly, unable to support every aspect of public spending inherited from the Brown administration.

We've already seen some initiatives set up by Labour, such as free swimming for kids, fall by the wayside, while COI adspend has been frozen and is likely to be cut. Yet, campaigns such as Change4Life, which has already been wholeheartedly endorsed 'in kind' by some of the UK's biggest advertisers, can continue if the government can persuade brands to cough up.

The promise of lighter-touch regulation will offset any short-term investment brands might need to make and they should therefore see this as a commercial opportunity to be exploited.

This would be good for their bottom line - and a big tick in the social responsibility box. The real challenge for marketing folk is to persuade consumers (including those most vocal of sceptics - the lobby groups) that it is in their long-term interests, too.


Andrew Lansley's call for brands to provide financial backing for the Change4Life campaign will benefit all parties involved. The government will gain financially and be able to invest the savings it makes in other initiatives.

Brands will be rewarded for their investment with lighter regulation, giving them more freedom when it comes to promoting their products.

From an agency perspective, more-relaxed regulations will give them the chance to showcase their expertise by advising clients on strategic and creative marketing programmes that align with the new policy.

Of course, it may be argued that lighter regulations will encourage irresponsible marketing, but there is no evidence to suggest that self-regulation won't be just as effective as government-imposed restrictions.

With regulation of the food and drink industries now as high on the health agenda as tobacco was a few years ago, our industry can ill afford to get on the wrong side of the coalition for fear of the same fate.


Any initiative that can have a positive effect on public health, the future of the NHS and corporate legislation merits serious consideration, especially in the current economic climate. …

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