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Three Ways Brexit Will Affect the AD/PR Industry

By: Emily Pirt, Executive Director


Credit: Huffington Post

It has been weeks since the U.K. decided to sever ties with the European Union. However, the world is still reeling from the historic breakup. With a two year-long transition period ahead for the U.K. to fully make its grand Brexit, the future looks hazy for not only the country, but for the advertising and public relations industries as well.

In a time where globalization is paramount in the business world, the separation will cause ripple effects throughout the communications sector.  

For young professionals preparing to enter the field, here are a few things to expect during the transition:

1). Market uncertainty

The health of the economy isn’t just important to stock brokers. The uncertainty surrounding Brexit can discourage investors from starting new projects and pumping money into the market. With everything up in the air, there could be serious implications for British advertising and public relations clientele.

Companies can be hesitant to begin new projects with U.K.-based firms because they don’t know what the market will look like in the long-term. Beyond this, consumers could be on the fence about buying products in the short-term, regardless of stellar advertising campaigns. PRWeek reports that executives will be closely advising clients in the financial, energy and pharmaceutical sectors, among others, due to possible cross-border policy changes.

2). Less Talent Mobility

Currently, Britain is the largest advertising market in Europe. By leaving the E.U., many global agencies will have to overcome personnel issues, as some non-British European workers will be without the now required U.K. visa. Some workers might not be able to stay at all and will be forced to return home.

Even worse, young professionals will be getting the short end of the stick in terms of visas. The Tier 2 skilled worker’s visa is available only to people who have worked a minimum of three years in their area of expertise…something recent college grads do not have. 

However, U.K. based firms have shown that they are willing to offer visas to recruit talent (one look at the number of skilled visa workers from outside Europe is proof enough), but it will be a sharp blow for young professionals looking to work abroad straight out of college.

Mobility will also be an issue for production companies, who will not benefit any longer from the EU’s open border policy. That means a lot more red tape to cut through for the television and film industries, as well as individuals traveling on business throughout Europe.

3). Addressing Consumer Disconnect

The reality of a pro-Brexit vote has been a wake-up call for advertising and public relations professionals across the pond. What was supposed to be a slam dunk for the Remain campaign, ended up being a total flop.

Despite the numerous AD / PR campaigns, voters were still extremely uneducated going into the polls. Many didn’t even know what it actually meant to leave the EU. GoogleTrends tweeted that searches for “what happens if we leave the EU” had skyrocketed after the polls closed.


Britons had the overwhelming idea that their individual votes “wouldn’t count” and that the U.K. would continue to remain in the EU. The next day, many even said they regretted their vote and wished they could have a second chance to vote “Remain.”

With “Bregret” setting in for a lot of voters, AD / PR execs will need to reevaluate if their London-based headquarters are really in touch with the will of the people. In an interview with Digiday, Nick Thomas, digital media practice leader at the consultancy firm Ovum expressed his concerns with the current communication breakdown.

“This is deeply concerning because it proves that arguments are not influenced by fact or expertise. When you’re in the business of selling to those people, you can’t help but ask, ‘How come we’ve got it so wrong?’” said Thomas.

“Anyone in the information industry should be asking himself, ‘Do we understand this country anymore?’ There’s this grievance against an out-of-touch metropolitan elite. That should give us pause for thought.”

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