How Margaret Thatcher changed the marketing industry forever

Margaret Thatcher with Ian Twinn during the 1983 General Election campaign
Margaret Thatcher with Ian Twinn during the 1983 General Election campaign

Ian Twinn, director of public affairs at ISBA, and former Conservative MP for Edmonton, examines Margaret Thatcher's legacy to the marketing communications industry.

Margaret Thatcher changed our lives, she reinvigorated the UK and she redefined our relationship with Europe and the world after years of feeling sorry for ourselves. But what did she do for advertising and marketing?

To start with her era was heralded by Saatchi & Saatchi’s iconic ad: Labour Isn’t Working. It worked because it told a fundamental truth; it was factual and met the country’s emotional need. And it was used because she said yes; so demonstrating a faith in advertising. To quote a competing agency, "a truth, well told".

From the PR view point she remains one of the outstanding examples of a major media figure whose image was honed and toned by some of the best in the business; to name the late Gordon Reece and the very present Tim Bell for a starter. It is this public image, so different from the early Minister of Education Thatcher, which has been replaying over the last few hours.

Her belief in a flourishing market economy, in completion and in freedom of expression made our world of advertising possible. 

In 1979 the UK was dominated by floundering monopolistic nationalised industry; energy, telecoms, transport.  Now we can all gripe from time to time but we have competitive business, contributing to GDP, not spending it. These businesses are major advertisers now. 

Britain creates, innovates, and in our modern era – leads the charge in Europe’s digitising economy.  It was quite a tribute that yesterday the news played on Twitter, perhaps the first world leader to have so many obits in 140 characters.

These revitalised businesses are also increasingly global players basing their success in part on the thriving creative industries that have sprung up to serve a free market economy. Can we imagine such a vigorously vibrant advertising industry in the 21st century if she had in fact, as so many early doubters believed, been a Lady for turning?

Adland has never looked back. The Saatchi Brothers and Tim Bell were part of the vanguard that saw a shift from the gentleman players to the smart corporates. Businesses grew, they merged and went global. British agencies competed with the Madmen and were able to win. Is Martin Sorrell the result?

Finally, she changed my life. She won the ’83 election and I followed in the slip stream to take Edmonton, Labour’s north London seat. She helped me locally, she listened and supported and she argued! It was a high octane time in politics, it was fun and she achieved so much that for me her death is overshadowed by her life.

Discussion

Before commenting please read our rules for commenting on articles.

If you see a comment you find offensive, you can flag it as inappropriate. In the top right-hand corner of an individual comment, you will see 'flag as inappropriate'. Clicking this prompts us to review the comment. For further information see our rules for commenting on articles.

comments powered by Disqus
Brand Republic Jobs

subscribe now

Latest

Center Parcs ad banned for encouraging parents to take kids out of school
Coca-Cola, Cadbury and Amazon named top brands for targeting youth market
Leaked document shows Nokia to be rebranded as Microsoft Mobile
Nike lays-off hardware staff in move that casts doubt on future of FuelBand
Greenpeace says save the bees or humans will die
What brands need to know about changes to VAT and online downloads in 2015
Jimmy Savile victims urged to claim compensation in new ad campaign
UKIP launches biggest  ad campaign and stirs up 'racist' accusations
Apple boss Tim Cook provides voiceover on ad touting firm's renewed green commitments
John Lewis walks consumers through its history to celebrate 150 years of business
Waitrose boosts content strategy with 'Weekend Kitchen with Waitrose' C4 tie-up
Hottest virals: Cute puppies star in Pedigree ad, plus Idris Elba and Fruyo
Amnesty International burns candles to illuminate new hope
Toyota achieves the impossible by calming angry Roman drivers
Tom of Finland's 'homoerotic' drawings made into stamps
YouTube reveals user habits to appeal to 'older' marketers
Ex-M&S marketing chief Steven Sharp consulting at WPP
Wolff Olins reveals new CEO after Apple poaches Karl Heiselman
Glasgow offers £30,000 prize to best digital idea for 2014 Commonwealth Games
Google's revenues surge but shares drop as it grapples with transition to mobile
Facebook beats Twitter to most 'marketing friendly' social media site crown, says DMA
Fableists believe children like Finn should be outdoors enjoying life
Homebase, Baileys and Camelot join the line-up at Media360
MasterCard renews Rugby World Cup sponsorship to push cashless message
Lynx unleashes £9m 'Peace invasion' campaign
Social Brands 100 Youth: Pizza Hut most social youth brand in UK
Cheryl Cole is wild and arresting in new L'Oreal work
Morrisons told not to show alcohol ads during YouTube nursery rhymes
O2 head of brand Shadi Halliwell departs after 23 years at company in restructure
Tesco hit by further sales decline as it turns to digital Clubcard and social network