Green Square comment as UK ad industry greets Theresa May’s Brexit plan

18th January 2017

The Drum reports UK ad industry greets Theresa May’s Brexit plan with bated breath. Prime minister Theresa May’s much-anticipated reveal of a “bold and ambitious” Brexit from the European Union’s (EU) single market has been met with reserved optimism by the country’s advertising industry.

Her admission that Britain cannot remain part of the single market in the wake of the referendum at least goes some way to quelling the tide of uncertainty it sparked. As the Institute Practitioners in Advertising (IPA) director Paul Bainsfar said: “We now know where we stand, at least in the bigger picture. We can no longer bury our heads in the sand.

”Despite some lingering uncertainty for the industry, Tony Walford, partner at mergers and acquisitions firm Green Square praised May for the fact that the overall message was clear as to what is being proposed, “which is good as it will put an end to the uncertainty that has dogged everyone since the vote”.

“Being open to trade agreements with the rest of the world and bringing in talent is a good thing. May has made it clear she does not want to undermine the EU and – as long as a trading agreement remains with Europe – then we could still be a gateway into that market,” he said.

From an M&A perspective, this will be key to overseas acquirers of UK companies that do not already have a footprint in Europe.

“If we do not achieve this, the acquirers that need access to the EU may look to other English speaking talent hubs – Amsterdam, Stockholm, Berlin and Lisbon,” Walford continued.

“Conversely, a key thing that could work in the favour of the UK M&A market, is that once the UK has negotiated trade deals with non-EU countries, it may make UK companies more attractive to EU acquirers as we could potentially give them access to those markets. Also, as sterling is currently weak, this means UK companies are great value for overseas acquirers right now. We are not seeing any slow-down in acquisition activity at Green Square and it will be interesting to see how the landscape pans out.”

Whatever the outcome of the negotiations, it will be some time before the real effects of May’s plan are felt. In the meantime the industry will continue to be influenced by a Brussels keen to exert more regulatory control on a rapidly expanding market. There’s the General Data Protection Regulation set for May next year, when advertisers will be forced to make fundamental changes to the way they use personal information, alongside potential changes to the Audio Visual Media Services Directive, which also threaten greater restrictions on advertising.

Having said this, in spite of the government’s best intentions, “no one knows the minutiae of what lies ahead. For the time being at least advertising itself will continue to come under scrutiny mostly from Brussels which despite Brexit will continue to influence us here for some time to come,” concluded the IPA’s Bainsfair.

“In the meantime, the IPA is working with Credos, the AA’s Think Tank, on a cross-industry report and stance on the impact of Brexit on the ad industry and it will be interesting to debate these results and the full impact of today’s news with the industry at the AA’s upcoming LEAD conference. Strap yourselves in, it’s going to be quite a ride.”

Read the full article here.