THE BLOG

Promoting Made in Britain - Advertising's Role in Osborne's Budget

24/03/2014 15:34 GMT | Updated 24/05/2014 10:59 BST

George Osborne's Budget announcement last week - a Budget for the 'Makers, Savers and Doers' of Britain - has sparked positive reactions across British industry, gaining admiration even from the sceptics.

The Chancellor's celebration of the nation's 'makers, savers and doers' will strike a chord with business, including our own marketing services. For some time now, along with others in the creative industries, we have been focused on the contribution we can make to GDP by enabling exports of UK goods and services to new markets worldwide.

With this in mind, the news the government has finally taken action to reward exporters by doubling the lending available to them (and cutting interest rates on those loans by a third) was welcomed with open arms, as was the promise of reduced energy costs for manufacturers.

These are hugely positive steps to enable strong economic growth across a wide spread of UK sectors, and have positive implications for us as marketers. In my last post, I mentioned the importance of educating small and medium-sized businesses in the power of exports to generate growth, and the power of advertising to create demand and raise brand awareness in new markets.

With financial incentives now in place, we're in a stronger position as an industry to encourage and educate businesses about the importance of global marketing investments. This in turn allows us to increase our own contribution both to a diverse, varied British industry, and to national GDP.

Equally, the government's decisions both to scrap inheritance tax for those working in emergency services and provide tax benefits for lower-income earners are moves to be celebrated. As well as rightly recognising the people who put their lives on the line on a daily basis, both of these will continue to lift the employment rates we have worked so hard to rectify since the recession hit.

Along with further corporate tax cuts, and the £2,000 Employment Allowance promised to businesses bringing in new talent, this further incentivises businesses of all sizes to invest in real growth, as opposed to cost-cutting. Business investment will make a huge difference to the rate at which we grow as a nation. What's more, as marketers, we are in a position to help businesses maximise their return on investments, so the decision to double the Investment Allowance is welcome news for our industry. Again, it empowers us to do our bit for the economy.

One celebrated development for MediaCom in particular is the government's continued support of apprenticeships, as well as the promise to waive employment tax on under-21s next year.

Our own annual Apprenticeship Scheme, which began in 2012, has been an enormous success, bringing a refreshing new approach to teams across all areas of our business, and has empowered 20 young people, so far, to realise their own potential in an industry many of them will be very valuable to. Organisations we've discovered along the way, like the National Apprenticeship Service, which our CEO is an ambassador for, and Futureversity, have inspired us with their drive to beat youth unemployment, and Osborne's promise to support these causes is an encouraging vote of confidence.

Of course, there are things we'd still like to see more of.

Despite the government's decision to found the Alan Turing Institute - a centre devoted to the use of big data and algorithm research - I would like to see more investment in the technological and digital skills which are driving our industry forward. All marketers are acutely aware of the value and necessity of extracting real meaning from data, so the importance of the Turing Institute announcement is indisputable.

However, digital and tech skills will need more support than this in years to come. Curriculum changes and a commitment to technological education, in practices such as coding, will be vital to our security as the technological leaders of tomorrow, to our economy, and to the employability of the next generation, so I am hopeful this will be a key focus in future Budgets.

Similarly, I'm sure many in our industry will agree that we need to see more investment in brands and agencies committed to promoting the 'Made in Britain' stamp in emerging markets. Incentives to encourage exports are the first step, but the next is to incentivise those promoting them.

Critics have voiced concerns about the nation's rising debt, which is forecast to continue to rise until 2016/17. One saving grace is that the growth we have achieved over the past few months is not credit-fuelled - and, as marketers, we have already contributed to this by bringing money in from new markets, rather than building on the nation's debt.

By continuing to drive exports and promote the 'Made in Britain' stamp worldwide, as Osborne suggests, we can help Britain emerge from debt stronger, and contribute more to an eventual surplus.

With the global expansion of brands such as Bentley, Jaguar, John Lewis, BSkyB and M&S, marketing and advertising have shown their potential to raise awareness of, increase demand for and command a premium on British goods in markets such as the US and the BRICs.

As the 'do-ers' who have made this happen, it would be nice to see these efforts rewarded, and motivations in place for more to join us. For my part at least, I think we've earned it.