Creative crunch? What does David Cameron’s UK Conservative win mean for food innovation?

By Matt Steele

- Last updated on GMT

Will a second Cameron government clamp food industry innovation?
Will a second Cameron government clamp food industry innovation?

Related tags Health food United kingdom

An abundance of ‘pro-business’ applause followed the recent David Cameron-curveball Conservative party victory in the UK general election. The result is being celebrated as a reassuring safeguard for economic stability and a ‘win’ for nurturing an environment where UK business can flourish, but is it all that? wonders food sector PR, Matt Steele.

From a politically neutral disposition questions remain over whether this sentiment accurately factors in all key interests from industry and business. One particular curiosity relates to potential implications for those involved in design, advertising, integrated communications, digital and social media. For the sake of this article, these realms will simply be referred to as creatives​.

Delivering value

Firstly – to tackle any potential scepticism – creatives are widely regarded as serious and integral contributors to the health food and nutrition industry. The likes of Danone spend about a billion euros in Europe​ alone on advertising (including their infamous Evian 'Baby & Me' creative campaign​) and Associated British Foods have been known to appoint the expertise of digital/social media agency support to manage a single-brand six-figure digital brief​.

So – in the context of this new single-party political leadership - which specific parts of Cameron’s focuses could impact the way the creatives operate in this industry?

The European Union: In or out?

Let's start with the European Union. Cameron has guaranteed an in/out referendum on EU membership some point before 2017, which could result in Britain exiting Europe. If this happens – as well as subsequent issues around the fact that more than 50% of Britain’s trade flows are with the EU​ – another consideration for creatives is the potential reduction in forward-thinking foreign-born entrepreneurs.

This group of professionals are esteemed as ‘hyper-productive’ creative practitioners as well as the founders of one in seven UK firms, according to a study​ by the Centre for Entrepreneurs think-tank. 

Is EU membership good for food industry innovation?

Further, the UK creative industry is globally regarded as a major magnet for attracting the best talent from across the world - where many innovative professionals are helping craft new businesses modes in the health food and nutrition industry (and others) to prosper and grow.

On the flipside, the potential of leaving the EU could also present some fruits for many UK marketeers. In particular it would likely represent the end of conforming to the notoriously restrictive EU nutrition and health claims regulation (NHCR) which has prohibited many health food companies from a range of strong communications options and messaging.

Education funding

Then there’s the potential for Conservative policies to impact future new home-grown creatives and talent. To paraphrase John Kampfner​ (CEO, Creative Industries Federation) Cameron’s current university funding model and cuts in arts education budgets come at a time when there is irrefutable evidence of these creative professionals’ economic value, and “would be to bite the hand that feeds us”​. One can only hope that this particular possibility does not eventuate.

Prospects for SMEs

Mello: Born out of a creative SME culture

Consideration should also be given to the large proportion of the health food and nutrition industry made up of small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs). Cameron vowed to bolster federal support for SMEs so this should help them invest in much needed creative support.

Mello – the small fresh melon juice brand - exemplifies the possibilities for other SMEs in this area. Their recent investment in design expertise for creating a new clean, vibrant and bold product packaging revamp led to the signing of big deals to roll the product range out into 218 Waitrose and 19 Boots stores nationwide​.

Overall, as a passionate practitioner in integrated communications, I am enthused on a daily basis by the commercial, business feats in this industry which are achieved with the support of conscious communications strategies and innovative creative campaigns for health food and nutrition businesses.

Let's hope the Conservative election is good news for business, and that this industry maintains its ability to push the boundaries of what’s possible, with the support of the creative ingenuity and talent required to fully realise these successes.

Matt Steele

Matt Steele works for the UK PR firm Pegasus​.

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