Exporting UK Advertising: Part II


Advertising think tank Credos surveyed over 100 providers of advertising and marketing communications services to benchmark the export activity of the UK advertising sector. The findings show high levels of export activity, supporting previous Credos research – notably in its ‘Advertising Pays 4’ report – which has shown the UK to be a world leader in advertising exports[1].


Overseas offices

About a third (35 per cent) of businesses surveyed have overseas offices, the top locations for which are the USA, China, and Australia/New Zealand. The relatively low proportion of businesses with offices in other European markets provides further evidence of the UK’s role as a regional hub for advertising and marketing communications services.

Nearly a quarter (24 per cent) of businesses surveyed are owned, either in full or in part, by an overseas company. Three quarters of owning companies are located outside of the EU, further reflecting the popularity of the UK as a destination for global businesses looking to expand into Europe.




Eight out of ten (80 per cent) businesses surveyed employ non-British nationals, supporting the findings of previous Credos research which has shown the UK advertising industry to be a magnet for global talent[2]. This figure was even higher among businesses surveyed in London, with nine out of ten (90%) employing non-British nationals.

Among employers of overseas talent, non-British nationals account for an average of 17 per cent of the workforce. Almost all these businesses employ non-British EU nationals, who make up an average of 14 per cent of the workforce (or 82 per cent of all overseas talent). Although high, this figure has fallen in recent years from 19 per cent in 2016 to 17 per cent in 2017.

Over two thirds (69 per cent) are concerned about retaining non-British EU members of staff post-Brexit while over half (57 per cent) are concerned about their ability to recruit new international staff. These findings paint a picture of an industry that is keen to maintain open links with the rest of the world post-Brexit, and one which values being able to access the very best talent from around the world.




  • UK providers of advertising and marketing communications services, large and small, show high levels of export activity, with nine out of ten servicing international clients and a third operating as a global or regional hub for their clients.
  • EU markets and the USA are integral to the exporting success of UK businesses.
  • Non-British EU citizens make up a significant proportion of the advertising workforce, and many employers are concerned about recruiting and retaining international staff post-Brexit.


Survey method


  • An online survey was distributed by the Advertising Association’s trade body members and other supporters (Advertising Producers Association, Direct Marketing Association, Internet Advertising Bureau, Institute of Practitioners in Advertising, Institute of Promotional Marketing, Market Research Society from the trade body world, AAR Group, London & Partners from business, and Campaign and Little Black Book from across the media).
  • 120 providers of advertising and marketing communications services responded representing over £1 billion in turnover.

This information first appeared in the UK Advertising Exports Report, published by the Advertising Association in March 2019.


[1] Credos (2016), Advertising Pays 4: Export value and global impact

[2] Credos (2017), Advertising Pays 6: World class talent, world class advertising,