LEAD summit explores responsible growth in advertising

Politicians and industry leaders discussed AI, poverty, sustainability, and online safety

Over 400 advertisers and business leaders came together yesterday (8 February) for LEAD — a day-long advertising industry summit, held by the Advertising Association, IPA and ISBA.

Hosted at the QEII Centre in Westminster, the event explored the theme of ‘Responsible Growth’ in advertising, with a mix of industry figures and politicians discussing the role of advertising in helping the UK return to economic and social prosperity. They touched on the role of AI, poverty, sustainability, and online safety.

The day kicked off with a keynote from CBI’s Chief Executive Rain Newton-Smith on the importance of a positive economic vision to strengthen the UK’s competitiveness, the future of work, and securing green growth.

In response to the speech, Lisa Hayley-Jones, Director of Policy and Government Affairs, Advertising Association, said: ‘We are pleased to hear the CBI echo the importance of the advertising industry during an election year. Be it through driving price competition during a cost of living crisis; supporting SMEs to compete on the world stage; or working closely with government to ensure we attract inward investment and talent we need to keep our sector thriving — the advertising industry is vital to achieving this economic success.’

Rain Newton-Smith at LEAD

Attracting young talent

Attendees heard from Culture Secretary Lucy Frazer and Shadow Minister for Creative Industries and Digital Chris Bryant who both expressed the importance of the advertising industry in leading the British economy.

‘Advertising is an essential cog in the free market,’ Frazer said. ‘Our Creative Industries are growing at twice the rate of the rest of our economy and last year accounted for £126 billion. And advertising is a massive part of that success story. It already accounts for around 15% of Creative Industries output and all indicators suggest it will continue to grow in size.’

Both Bryant and Frazer emphasised the importance of creative education for children and addressed the need for more investment in attracting young talent, such as through reformed apprenticeship programmes.

How advertising can help combat poverty

Later in the day, Former Prime Minister, the Rt Hon Gordon Brown addressed the issue of poverty in the UK, and laid out an action plan for how brands and organisations can help, pointing to charities, such as The Trussel Trust and The Felix Project as organisations to work with 

‘We are now seeing poverty in this country that I never thought I would see at any point again in my lifetime’, he said. ‘If you in the advertising industry could bring to life some of these real-life experiences … we have not conveyed to people the sheer extent of the problems that many families face. It is primarily working families who cannot make ends meet. I think something can be done about this, this is not something that is insoluble, but we need to show real-life examples of what is happening.

To be honest, we spend a lot of time advertising products that are less important than helping people out of poverty.

Rt Hon Gordon Brown

Online safety

Lord Michael Grade chair of Ofcam addressed the need for online safety and the role advertisers need to play in that.

People in the UK say they want a safer internet, especially for our children and, of course, no advertiser wants their creative work, their voice to the consumer, their brand, to appear alongside toxic, dangerous or illegal content,’ he said. ‘It’s clear advertisers have unique leverage in the fight against harmful content.’

He emphasised the need for online services to prioritise areas like moderation, as if they don’t, their users and their content creators ‘can vote with their mouses.’

Lorde Grade / Credit: Bronac McNeill

In response to Grade’s speech, Stephen Woodford, CEO, Advertising Association, said: ‘We welcome Lord Grade’s constructive speech about Ofcom’s new duties under the Online Safety Act and note his call to the advertising industry to focus on responsible growth, keeping ahead of potential harms and fraud and making trust and safety its top priority.

‘We are already in a position of strength: the ASA is a world-class regulator and its pro-active AI-driven regulation is expanding rapidly.’

The event was attended by senior-level professionals from organisations including, Channel 4, Dentsu, eBay, Google, HSBC, ITV, L’Oréal, Lloyds, Meta, Nationwide, NatWest, Publicis, P&G, Sky, Unilever, Vodafone, and WPP.

Featured image: Rt Hon Gordon Brown at LEAD / Credit: Bronac McNeill