Letter from the Editor: Advertising just needs to learn how to sell itself better

The editor of The Independent on why advertising isn't a luxury to be discarded when times are tough.

Related Topics

There was quite a gathering from across marketing and media land
at the LEAD 2013 conference organised by the Advertising
Association this week.

Doubtless, a fair proportion of you, on reading that will instantly turn up your noses. It's pure snobbishness, in a country where advertising as an industry and profession is still not taken seriously enough.

To be fair, though, as I said in a panel discussion on this very point, part of the problem lies with advertising itself. Weirdly, for people who pride themselves on getting the message across, they do a poor job at selling themselves – specifically the importance and economic contribution of their trade.

Too many businesses regard advertising as an extra, an add-on to be discarded when times are tough. In fact, the reverse is the case. For the conference, the Advertising Association asked business advisory firm Deloitte to examine the effect of advertising. The ensuing report, Advertising Pays, finds that advertising plays a vital, enhancing role in the UK economy, generating £100bn of GDP. On average, £1 of advertising spend returns £6 to UK GDP. Most importantly of all, says Deloitte, GDP growth follows advertising investment, not the other way round.

Some in the audience tried to assert that the press was to blame for not giving advertising a proper hearing. This struck me as perverse and wrong – not least since we depend on advertising for a substantial chunk of our income. I said I like nothing more than a story taking the reader inside the thinking behind a new blockbuster advert or marketing campaign (the John Lewis "snowman" is a recent one that springs to mind). That sort of tale well-told has a lot to offer: human behaviour, entrepreneurship, competitiveness, planning, creative genius and endeavour.

Of course, there are examples of exploitation and the peddling of untruths and we would be failing in our duty if we did not report them. But there are also more uplifting instances where someone has dreamt up an advert that is simply brilliant. Give us more of those, let us meet the brains behind the advert that has got the whole country talking.

Advertising has come up with a three-point plan: to encourage businesses to advertise; to boost the production of adverts in the UK; to tackle stifling red tape. Let's hope it works: as the report says, advertising pays.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Database Administrator

£300 - £350 Per Day: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: The role could involve w...

Science Teacher

£21000 - £35000 per annum: Randstad Education Cambridge: Qualified secondary s...

Deputy Head of Science

£22000 - £36000 per annum + MPR / UPR: Randstad Education Southampton: Our cli...

Finance Manager - Recruitment Business (Media & Entertainment)

£28000 - £35000 per annum + negotiable: Sauce Recruitment: We have an exciting...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Nigel Farage has urged supporters to buy Mike Read's Ukip Calypso song and push it up to the No 1 spot  

My limerick response to Mike Read’s Ukip Calypso

Simon Kelner
The number of ring ouzels have seen a 30 per cent decline in the last 10 years  

How the sight of flocks of ring ouzels helps to turn autumn into the new spring

Michael McCarthy
Indiana serial killer? Man arrested for murdering teenage prostitute confesses to six other murders - and police fear there could be many more

A new American serial killer?

Police fear man arrested for murder of teen prostitute could be responsible for killing spree dating back 20 years
Sweetie, the fake 10-year-old girl designed to catch online predators, claims her first scalp

Sting to trap paedophiles may not carry weight in UK courts

Computer image of ‘Sweetie’ represented entrapment, experts say
Fukushima nuclear crisis: Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on - and may never return home

Return to Fukushima – a land they will never call home again

Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on from nuclear disaster
Wildlife Photographer of the Year: Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize

Wildlife Photographer of the Year

Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize
Online petitions: Sign here to change the world

Want to change the world? Just sign here

The proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?
Ed Sheeran hits back after being labelled too boring to headline festivals

'You need me, I don’t need you'

Ed Sheeran hits back after being labelled too boring to headline festivals
How to Get Away with Murder: Shonda Rhimes reinvents the legal drama

How to Get Away with Murder

Shonda Rhimes reinvents the legal drama
A cup of tea is every worker's right

Hard to swallow

Three hospitals in Leicester have banned their staff from drinking tea and coffee in public areas. Christopher Hirst explains why he thinks that a cuppa is every worker's right
Which animals are nearly extinct?

Which animals are nearly extinct?

Conservationists in Kenya are in mourning after the death of a white northern rhino, which has left the species with a single male. These are the other species on the brink
12 best children's shoes

Perfect for leaf-kicking: 12 best children's shoes

Find footwear perfect to keep kids' feet protected this autumn
Anderlecht vs Arsenal: Gunners' ray of light Aaron Ramsey shines again

Arsenal’s ray of light ready to shine again

Aaron Ramsey’s injury record has prompted a club investigation. For now, the midfielder is just happy to be fit to face Anderlecht in the Champions League
Comment: David Moyes' show of sensitivity thrown back in his face by former Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson

Moyes’ show of sensitivity thrown back in his face... by Ferguson

Manchester United legend tramples on successor who resisted criticising his inheritance
Two super-sized ships have cruised into British waters, but how big can these behemoths get?

Super-sized ships: How big can they get?

Two of the largest vessels in the world cruised into UK waters last week
British doctors on brink of 'cure' for paralysis with spinal cord treatment

British doctors on brink of cure for paralysis

Sufferers can now be offered the possibility of cure thanks to a revolutionary implant of regenerative cells
Ranked seventh in world’s best tourist cities - not London, or Edinburgh, but Salisbury

Lonely Planet’s Best in Travel 2015

UK city beats Vienna, Paris and New York to be ranked seventh in world’s best tourist destinations - but it's not London