Advertising Association boss Woodford warns of industry's 'pivotal' moment in Lords committee appearance

Stephen Woodford: the Advertising Association CEO has given evidence to a House of Lords committee
Stephen Woodford: the Advertising Association CEO has given evidence to a House of Lords committee

Advertising Association chief executive Stephen Woodford has called on the government to better support the advertising industry in the face of Brexit while giving evidence to a group of peers.

Speaking before the House of Lords Communications Committee this afternoon, Woodford asked that government give greater support to the industry via a number of areas, including tax breaks and education.

He said that government should help advertising attract the best talent domestically and from overseas, through better education and via closer relationships with colleges and universities.

Woodford added that more should be done to promote the UK and London as a global advertising hub via inward investment initiatives and that government should stimulate domestic growth for SMEs by offering them advertising tax credits.

His appearance today follows last week’s call to action from the House of Lords select committee on communications, whose inquiry is calling for agencies and advertisers to provide evidence about the UK's current access to international talent and skillsets.

Woodford, who said the industry was at a "pivotal" point in its evolution, underlined the importance of the advertising sector beyond its own walls, stressing its contributions to the wider economy and employment, generating more than £120bn and supporting one million jobs.

He said: "In the global context, the UK is a leader in world advertising. The sector generates £4.3bn in annual exports and this is growing at twice the rate of the UK’s general exports. We attract many of the world’s best people in our sector to work and live here. That in turn means that we can create the world’s best advertising — this is consistently recognised on the world stage."

"We are at a pivotal time in the evolution of the industry," he added, listing a number of reasons: From "the changing landscape for business and talent that Brexit brings", changing media consumption habits, the need for new skills to deal with emerging technologies, to the result of increasing competition from other world cities "keen to challenge us as a world-leading centre for advertising".

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