Cast your minds back to June 24th 2016; it’s a day I certainly won’t forget. As I stumbled back from a night of revelry on Worthy Farm, I was confronted by the worst news imaginable. 51.9% of Brits made the ill-advised decision to forsake 40 plus years of peace in a bid to ‘regain our sovereignty’. Of course, that phrase, to this day, has little meaning and was a soundbite used by those in favour of leaving the EU to whip up public support.
Fast forward nearly three years and as a nation we’re crippled by uncertainty. Our Prime Minister now resembles a football manager on transfer deadline day more than she does a politician, desperately scrambling to get a deal, any deal (even no deal) over the line.
As it stands, all options are possible – a no deal Brexit, an extension to negotiations and even revoking Article 50. As marketing is largely concerned with identifying trends that will impact and inform future work, what can the marketing world do to pre-empt Brexit’s impact and protect prosperity?
Worryingly, a report by Econsultancy, Navigating Brexit: A Provisional Guide for Marketers and HR, suggests that a large percentage of marketers are simply ignoring the reality of Brexit and actively not preparing for it. Just 10% of respondents admitted that their company had formed a Brexit specific strategy. Although it may be tempting to ignore calls for action and think of your agency as being insulated by the Brexit fallout, even small regional marketing outfits will be touched by Brexit.
Here’s why it is vital for marketers to pre-empt Brexit’s impact and ensure a contingency plan is put in place:
Talent: Closing borders and making it harder to travel and work will have a detrimental impact on the talent you wish to attract. For example, between 2016-2017 London received three times more migrant marketing professionals than New York or Amsterdam, a third of which came from the EU.
Resources: Most job roles in marketing only require a laptop and that’s it, right? Not quite… although marketing isn’t heavily reliant on raw materials, the biggest cost after employing people is paper, the vast majority of which is imported from companies trading inside the EU.
Consumer Behaviour: In the aftermath of the referendum, UK citizens have been pitted against each other – ‘leavers’ v ‘remainers’ – and this has trickled down into consumer behaviour. The referendum result and the way in which we voted reveals a great deal about differing attitudes to post-Brexit spending.
Data: If Brexit constitutes a closing down of the single market for Britain, what will this mean for the sharing of data? That too will come under scrutiny and the ability to share data freely, securely and effectively will be compromised.
Incentives: Now this may seem to take on less significance when held up against other factors, but the way in which competition prizes are advertised will be hampered. No longer will marketers be able to offer a week in the Spanish sun at the drop of the hat. Once questions begin to surface surrounding visas, it will all seem like more trouble than it is worth.
The final quarter of 2018 saw six years of growth in UK marketing budgets come to an end due to ongoing economic and political uncertainty surrounding Brexit. Although budgets have not been slashed, a halt in the increase of budget growth should serve as an indicator of the importance of pre-empting the effects of Brexit in order to protect prosperity in marketing.
Do you work in marketing? Have you put in place any special measures to prepare for Brexit? Whether you have or not, we’d love to hear why – tweet us at @otbtweeter with your thoughts.