Public Affairs

Public Affairs

ISBA represents brand owners advertising in the UK, and the Public Affairs team acts as your voice to government and Parliament.  

We work to: 

  • raise ISBA’s profile and influence policy in Government, with opposition parties, in Whitehall and in Parliament, through stakeholder engagement activity and advocacy for the interests of our members; 
  • bring ISBA’s community of brand marketers together with legislators and policymakers in collective pursuit of an advertising environment that is transparent, responsible, accountable, and trusted by parliamentarians and the public; 
  • demonstrate brand advertisers’ proactive commitment to creating positive outcomes for society and the economy; and  
  • give a single voice to advocacy for the improvement of the industry.  

We believe that this activity helps to build and increase trust in advertising and marketing and in the self- and co-regulatory system.  

Some of the political and Public Affairs resources available to ISBA members can be found on the Knowledge Hub here

Contact us

Rob Newman

Rob Newman

Director of Public Affairs
Rob Newman

Rob Newman

Director of Public Affairs

Rob leads Public Affairs for ISBA – engaging with government, Parliament, policymakers, and regulators to represent our policy positions to external audiences.

He leads our Strategic Policy Action Group, a corporate affairs forum for ISBA members; and our Influencer Marketing Working Group, which developed a Code of Conduct launched in 2021.

A former political adviser and consultant who has worked in Parliament, at think tanks and in the private sector, Rob spent 12 years working for the Labour Party in various guises – for frontbenchers and backbenchers; in government and opposition; in constituencies and in Westminster. He attended Shadow Cabinet meetings as part of its secretariat and worked in the Whips Office.

Subsequently, Rob spent over three years at Edelman, the world’s largest communications agency, supporting clients including FTSE 100 companies and multinationals in the FMCG and tech sectors on their public affairs programmes. He then ran communications and policy for the foreign affairs and defence-focused Henry Jackson Society think tank, before becoming a freelance consultant. He joined ISBA in 2019. 

Stuart Macnaughton

Stuart Macnaughtan

Head of Public Affairs and Sustainability
Stuart Macnaughton

Stuart Macnaughtan

Head of Public Affairs and Sustainability

Stuart joined ISBA in July 2021. He has worked in and around British politics for nearly 10 years, having worked in Parliament and for political campaign groups. He is a former political adviser to Chuka Umunna, providing political advice and managing his communications and press engagement during the 2017 and 2019 General Elections and the Brexit referendum. In 2019 he played a senior role in planning and launching The Independent Group of former Labour and Conservative MPs.

Prior to joining ISBA Stuart worked in public affairs at the British Business Bank, building relationships with Ministers, Whitehall, Parliament, and wider stakeholders as the Bank delivered government-backed finance to support UK businesses through the Coronavirus pandemic.


What we do

Strategic Policy Action Group

ISBA’s Strategic Policy Action Group provides our members with a public affairs and corporate communications forum for cross-cutting conversations with influential figures, commentators and politicians. The Group is open to ISBA members across disciplines and sectors who are striving to meet – and shape – the political and reputational issues confronting advertising and marketing in the UK. 

This is a forum with not only a focus on public policy, but which also takes a wider view on trends in our industry and strategic challenges. The Group would be useful to any ISBA members who have an interest in political, legislative, and regulatory developments. 

If there are topics or challenges that you would like to see covered at a future Group meeting, please contact Rob Newman, ISBA’s Director of Public Affairs.

You can find more information on recent meetings here.


In the Health and Care Act 2022 the UK Government legislated for new restrictions on the advertising of food and drink products high in fat, sugar or salt (HFSS). These new restrictions included a 9pm watershed on broadcast TV/ODPS, and a total ban on paid-for online HFSS advertising. There are a number of exemptions from the restrictions, including for brand advertising, ‘transactional content’ and more. However, these are still to be precisely defined.

The advertising industry has a history of supporting and partnering with government to help the UK become a fitter, healthier nation, and to tackle health inequalities. However, we are concerned that restrictions contained in the Health and Care Act will not work. Regrettably, Ministers have until now rejected more effective, evidence-based solutions.

The implementation of the restrictions has been delayed until 1 October 2025. Ofcom will shortly be consulting on the day-to-day regulation of the restrictions; we expect the ASA to be the designated regulator, and for guidance to be considered by CAP/BCAP over the course of 2023.

ISBA’s Public Affairs team will continue to represent the views of our members to government, parliamentarians, and regulators. More resources and documents can be found on the Knowledge Hub, including a briefing on HFSS advertising for ISBA members.

For more information please contact Rob Newman, Director of Public Affairs. 

Online Harms

ISBA has long supported policymakers’ and regulators’ ambition to make the UK one of the safest places in the world to be online. We have welcomed and encouraged the development of online harms legislation, now being progressed through Parliament with the Online Safety Bill.  

We have advocated for proportionate regulation of the major digital platforms, while recognising the imperative of protecting freedom of expression, including our members’ freedom to advertise – not least so that advertising and marketing continues to be the engine of our successful, exporting creative industries.  

There are huge opportunities inherent in the development of the digital economy, but there are also serious challenges to individual and collective safety. Meeting them is a global task and one in which the advertising and marketing industry must, and is, playing its full part.  

Advertisers, agencies, media companies, platforms and industry organisations have come together in the Global Alliance for Responsible Media (GARM) to take forward this work and improve digital safety. ISBA is a member of the GARM Steering Committee, and we have helped to develop GARM’s Brand Safety Floor and Suitability Framework

There is no place in a dynamic, competitive digital economy for content or activity that puts at risk children and the most vulnerable. Advertisers, platforms and trade bodies look forward to working in partnership with government to put in place workable rules which root out and prevent online harms.  

We continue to call on Ministers to push on with the Online Safety Bill, and submitted evidence to the Draft Online Safety Bill Joint Committee and the DCMS Sub-Committee on Online Harms and Disinformation.

Influencer Marketing

In September 2021, ISBA launched a Code of Conduct for influencer marketing, aimed at raising standards, smoothing relationships between industry participants, and delivering transparency for consumers. 

The Code, driven by ISBA members and co-designed with representatives from talent agencies and a group of influencers, is not a new set of rules and regulations, but a guide to best practice in influencer marketing. It contains commitments from brands, agencies, and talent aiming to:  

  • Deliver the transparency consumers expect and deserve – by being clear on the need to disclose when an ad is an ad (and how); by committing not to use photo filters and misleading editing techniques; and by meeting obligations to protect children and vulnerable groups.
  • Enable authentic and effective influencer marketing – by backing influencers to deliver their honest opinion on products; supporting their wellbeing, from mental to financial health; and always promoting diversity and inclusion, with zero tolerance for hateful content.
  • Improve brand/agency/talent relationships – by setting out how all participants will work collaboratively on campaigns; agencies committing to play a key role in aligning brands and talent; and with clarity from brands on KPIs and from influencers on helping demonstrate ROI.

Brands from across ISBA’s membership, talent agencies, and influencers have agreed to adhere to the Code, and we hope that others across industry will follow suit. To find out more, please get in touch

Advertising Regulation in the UK

Advertising in the UK operates under self-regulation (meaning that the industry has voluntarily established and paid for its own regulation) and co-regulation (which means that the ASA has day-to-day responsibility for regulating the content of TV and radio ads, under direction from Ofcom). 

The system is funded by a levy on the cost of advertising space. No government funding is received, and the work is free to the taxpayer. 

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) is the UK’s independent advertising regulator. The ASA delivers day-to-day regulation of ads by legitimate businesses across all media – with the goal of making ads responsible, and the ambition of making every UK ad a responsible ad. It makes sure that ads stick to the Advertising Codes. 

The Advertising Codes are written by the Committee of Advertising Practice (CAP). Together, the ASA and CAP seek to regulate in a way that is transparent, proportionate, targeted, evidence-based, consistent, and accountable. 

Members of the ISBA team sit as members of the CAP and BCAP Committees, representing brand advertisers. We often take part in Working Groups looking at specific subject areas – for example body image, gambling, or alcohol. 

The ASA is currently working to its five-year strategy, More Impact Online, which has strands including regulating online advertising, and exploring the role advertising regulation can play in responding to the climate emergency. 

If you have any questions about developments in UK ad regulation, please get in touch

Consultation Responses

ISBA regularly responds to Government and industry consultations to advocate for the collective interest of our members and advertising in the UK.  

Some of our consultation responses are available to our members online via the Knowledge Hub here. If you have any questions about a specific consultation, please contact Rob Newman, Director of Public Affairs.

Environmental Sustainability

Advertisers of all sizes, along with their advertising agencies, media owners and platforms, need to decarbonise their operations rapidly and help promote the adoption of more sustainable products and services. Advertisers, agencies, and every company in our industry share the responsibility to make this happen. 

ISBA is a signatory of the United Nations Race to Zero campaign, which include a commitment to halve emissions by 2030, and achieve net zero by 2050. 

ISBA has also signed the WFA Planet Pledge, a global commitment to make marketing teams a force for positive change both internally and with the consumers who buy their products and services.

More information is available on the ISBA Knowledge Hub here.