Election 2005

Marketing's editorial team and industry figures cast their vote based on the parties' stances on marketing issues.

LABOUR

Labour brings stability of a proven record

Are you better off than you were eight years ago? Are your customers wealthier? You have an opportunity to vote for the party that has presided over an unprecedented period of economic growth - or to gamble with the unproven and inexperienced. The question is not who to vote for, but why you would vote anything but Labour?

Since 1997 inflation and mortgage rates have fallen to the lowest level in 40 years. More people are in work than at any time in the past 29 years and wages have risen. These are significant achievements upon which future business prosperity will be built.

So what of Labour's record on advertiser issues? Time and again Labour has initiated the debate but left decision-making with the experts. From the creation of Ofcom to broadcast self-regulation through the ASA and the BBC Charter Review, Labour has chosen the consultative route.

Advertising to children is an emotive issue, a consumer truth Labour has forced advertisers to react to. The Conservatives' lighter approach carries the danger of inaction, while the Lib Dems' proposed restrictions are ill-considered and inflexible.

Labour has delivered economic stability and listens to business - now is not the time to put such achievements at risk.

Craig Smith, editor

CONSERVATIVE

Tories offer marketers the most freedom

One of the most important issues facing advertisers is the threat of statutory intervention from government and the EU on the regulation of advertising and food labelling. Unlike Labour, the Conservatives are in favour of self-regulation and believe the government should only intervene as a last resort.

The party is not proposing to enforce food labelling, but agrees consumers need clearer guidelines on recommended daily allowances. It says that it will wait to see what Ofcom concludes before making its policy options on food advertising, which will take into account an FSA review. The Tories are proposing to take some of the pressure off the food industry with a hard-hitting campaign to raise awareness of the benefits of a healthy lifestyle.

The party intends to cut the COI's ad budget, which has peaked at £190m, by two-thirds, back to pre-1997 levels. It believes this rise was unjustified - did the government need to spend millions promoting its Child Trust Fund, when all new parents were automatically given the money to start the fund?

More importantly, there is an argument that the millions of pounds in government activity has inflated the cost of advertising, so should the Conservatives' proposed reduction come about, advertisers could expect to incur lower costs.

Lucy Barrett, deputy editor

LIBERAL DEMOCRAT

Lib Dems are only party to spell out aims

The Liberal Democrats take a reasonable, pro-consumer approach to regulating the marketing industry by protecting the interests of vulnerable people such as children. The stance is that consumers would be less cynical of marketing if it was carried out in a more responsible manner.

The Lib Dems have thought about the marketing issues and don't mince words in laying out their plans: a mandatory nutritional labelling scheme based on a traffic-light system; restrictions on advertising unhealthy foods during kids' TV; 'health' warnings on credit card ads; a ministerial-level committee on the creative industries; and help for the old and poor to switch from analogue to digital TV.

Contrast that with Labour vaguely saying it will introduce clearer labelling and restrict advertising of unhealthy food to kids, but offering no specifics.

And how hypocritical is Labour's response to adspend levels for the COI, saying 'these matters are best left for the professionals within the COI'? Why not apply the same logic to the Department of Health and let the professionals manage healthcare rather than setting them targets?

Similarly, the Tories mouth concerns about food labelling but don't put forward a plan to address it, rejecting an ad ban on unhealthy foods for kids.

Bill Britt, associate editor

THE MARKETERS' RESPONSE

VOTE: JAMIE OLIVER

Richard Reed Founder/marketing director, Innocent Drinks

I wouldn't vote for any of the major parties, because on the issue of children's food and nutrition, they have all gone straight to the heart of the periphery. It is the food, not the ads, which kids eat. Keeping the debate focused on kids' advertising has been a result for companies knowingly producing rubbish and selling it to children. Until a party stands for higher principles in the food we give children, I'm voting Jamie Oliver.

VOTE: CONSERVATIVE

Andrew Mullins Marketing director, Times Newspapers

The Conservatives seem to me to be more considered and more knowledgeable, and are therefore probably better able to make balanced, objective and correct decisions on the various issues. The Labour Party's approach to - and disinterest in - the COI's runaway spending is shocking. Just think how they behave with the rest of taxpayers' money. The Liberal Democrats' responses were all superficial.

VOTE: NONE OF THE ABOVE

Simon Thompson Marketing director, Honda

So, the Tories will do whatever Europe, Ofcom and the James Report recommends. Labour will legislate against freedom to advertise, yet the COI will make its own mind up, and great education will equip people for a full life. The Lib Dems will do whatever the FSA and Ofcom recommend, cut government advertising, yet support the creative world. I say vote for ISBA and the IPA - they support the needs of the advertising community.

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