Nobody knows for sure what will happen, but marketing is well placed to survive the coming Brexit storm. That was the takeaway from a lineup of top marketers discussing Brand Britain this morning at the Festival of Marketing in London, chaired by former Culture Minister, and my local MP, Ed Vaizey.
It may sound like an old-fashioned concept, but the FA’s CEO Martin Glenn, a former marketing director at FMCG brands, predicted that the British record of fair play will see the country through. Having sold biscuits around the world, he joked, he now believes football’s message of fair play is testament to the strength of Brand Britain. The FA is well known for overseeing a sport that is known to played fairly and where games are not rigged. Sam Allardyce, he reassured delegates, had to leave his role as the England manager because he didn’t uphold those values, so the furore actually reinforced the values behind Brand Britain rather than brought them in to question.
Nevertheless, there are clouds gathering. Ben Page, chief executive of Ipsos MORI, pointed out that the country is still very divided over whether Britain should remain with the free trade area or cut ties altogether. The conclusion is that the government is committed to removing us from an economic free trade area and we’ll just have to live with the economic consequences.
These are very real for India Gary-Martin, chief executive of fashion brand Only Fingers and Toes. As an American based in London she was keen to point out she does not think Britons have turned nastier on immigrants, but warns there are some very serious questions over growing a brand in Brexit Britain.
“There’s a lot of uncertainty at the moment which is no good for us as we’re in the middle of kicking off international expansion,” she said. “We don’t know what the pound is going to do and how that will impact where we might need to move our manufacturing to. We’ve had investors put a hold on our plans because of the uncertainty, so I’m now in America a lot to get the finance for our expansion and to investigate manufacturing opportunities.”
Clearly Brexit is not just a political hot potato, but it’s actually having a huge impact on brands looking to grow internationally. Uncertainty is never good for business and although the assembled marketers were adamant Britain would come out of the process in good shape, all had to concede there will be several years of uncertainty.