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Do advertising and media get enough kudos from Govt?

By appointing someone with no direct experience to the DCMS, does the Govt value the industry, Mark Banham asks.

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MAYBE Tim Lefroy, chief executive, Advertising Association

"We appreciate government support for self-regulation and increasing recognition of our economic contribution. We need a higher level of support, however, as we’re too easy to attack as we get close to next year’s general election."

YES Pedro Avery, chief executive, Arena

"The UK ad industry is revered and respected globally and, as such, requires the same love as the Government gives the City. While regulation is sitting at a good level, there’s urgent work to be done – particularly in the digital space."

YES Jon Wilkins, executive chairman, Karmarama

"As an entrepreneur, I always felt you had to work your way round the system rather than having a system that works around you. It shouldn’t feel this way. The taxation system should nurture the brave, but it is in fact getting tougher."

YES Pete Buckley, strategy director, MEC

"It’s an easy win for the Government to cut advertising or focus on advertising as a problem. Credit is given to the tech industries, but I don’t think that marketing spend is seen as contributing to making this a better country."

The revolving door of government began to spin off its hinges last month with the departure of Maria Miller, the Culture Secretary and former Grey London executive, after an expenses scandal.

She was replaced at the Department for Culture, Media & Sport by Sajid Javid, a rising star in the Conservative Party.

Javid, who was previously the Financial Secretary to the Treasury, is known to be a close ally of the Chancellor, George Osborne. He’s a state-educated former banker and – rather poignantly for the Eton-educated Prime Minister, David Cameron – the son of a bus driver.

Excluded from much of the fanfare surrounding the appointment is that, unlike Miller, Javid has no discernible experience in media or advertising. His expertise, up until now, has been very much on the finance side of things.

Does this suggest the DCMS is still largely viewed as the "Ministry of Fun" in Westminster?

According to the Advertising Association, the latest UK expenditure on advertising points to an industry worth £17.8 billion in 2013 and £18.8 billion in 2014.

Some estimates suggest that, as well as driving business, advertising generates £100 billion for the UK economy each year – equating to 7 per cent of the country’s GDP. Advertising also puts £9 billion annually through the other creative industries.

Choosing someone from the government ranks with limited industry experience could be read as carelessness on the part of Cameron. The same accusation dogged Miller’s predecessor, Jeremy Hunt.

Hunt’s contentious time as the Culture Secretary – dominated by his relationship with News International and Rebekah Brooks – later led him to the rather more high-profile health portfolio.

So questions remain around how seriously No10 views the DCMS. Is the role of Culture Secretary little more than a launch pad for ministers needing more experience under their belts? As an industry that is so often an indicator of how the economy is performing, is the media and advertising sector getting the kudos it deserves? 

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