Event highlights progress and potential of Scottish ad sector

The success of Scotland's £1.7 billion advertising sector, those that drive it forward, and the ways the medium can help SMEs help grow the Scottish economy have been highlighted at an event at Dynamic Earth in Edinburgh.

John McLellan, director of the Scottish Newspaper Society, said the multi-channelnews sector is delighted to help businesses communicate more effectively with their markets and customers.

It was hosted by the Advertising Association, which said £1 spent on advertising in Scotland generates £5 for the Scottish economy, so the £1.7bn ad spend equates to a near-£9bn boost that in turn contributes 42,000 Scottish jobs.

Scottish business minister Paul Wheelhouse was guest of honour at the event, which united representatives from across political, advertising, business and media industries north of the Border.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

The event also saw the official launch of the Advertising Association’s AAccelerate for Growth pilot programme to help SMEs advertise more.

Research has found that only 43 per cent of UK SMEs advertise, and they constitute just under a fifth of UK ad spend, but £1 spent on advertising can benefit an SME eight times as much as a larger business.

The pilot aims to find ten SMEs from across Scotland to undertake multi-channel campaigns for a specific period, and they will receive a bespoke advertising campaign. The launch event also featured the public premiere of a short film from the association celebrating the talent behind the Scottish advertising industry.

Wheelhouse said: “Advertising is vitally important to the Scottish Economy. Not only does it support businesses and help brands to grow, as has been demonstrated with some of Scotland’s iconic brands, but advertising also helps deliver Scotland the brand, as demonstrated by the powerful and attractive campaign Scotland is Now.

“I want to see links established between the creative industries and the wider economy so that they can help each other to grow.”

John McLellan, director of the Scottish Newspaper Society, also commented, saying: "It's in the interests of the whole Scottish economy for businesses to communicate more effectively with their markets and customers, and as a key component of Scotland's advertising infrastructure, the multi-channel news sector is delighted to help make that happen."

Stephen Woodford, chief executive of the Advertising Association, hailed the Scottish advertising industry as a "key driver" of the economy, with a key element those working across Scotland. “But we also know that advertising can do even more to support jobs right across the country. That is why [we have] set up AAccelerate for Growth to demonstrate the added value that advertising offers for SMEs to help them achieve their commercial goals, and we forward to supporting them in their aims”.

Siobhan Kenny, chief executive at Radiocentre and national champion of the AAccelerate for Growth project, commented that Scottish SMEs "are already the backbone of the economy, and just a little extra assistance could propel them towards realising their true potential for growth.”

And Brian Coane, chairman, Front Foot Scotland and partner at The Leith Agency, said: "Our ambition is for advertising industry to be one of the sectors that drives faster economic growth in Scotland. Right now, relative to other areas of the UK, advertising contributes less than it could and one of the key ways we can change this is by encouraging more Scottish SMEs to advertise. The AAccelerate programme has been designed to do just that. It’s all about encouraging SMEs to advertise and grow their businesses."