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
Stuart Macnaughton

Stuart Macnaughtan

Head of Public Affairs

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.


Strategic Policy Action Group

The Public Affairs team has brought together ISBA’s Strategic Policy Action Group to provide our members with a space for cross-cutting conversations with leading figures, while facilitating engagement with policymakers and regulators. It is for representatives across disciplines and sectors who are striving to meet – and shape – the big issues confronting advertising and marketing. 

It maintains a focus on public policy and is a forum for members to discuss common issues, but also takes a wider view on trends in our industry and the strategic challenges. This group would be of interest to any members involved in public and corporate affairs, or who have an interest in political, legislative and regulatory developments. 

For more information please get in touch


The Government has brought forward proposed new regulations on the advertising of food products high in fat, sugar and salt (HFSS) as part of the Health and Care Bill.   

We and our members support the need to tackle obesity. We have a history of supporting and partnering with government to help the UK become a fitter, healthier nation. 

But we are concerned that the proposed TV advertising watershed and paid-for online ban will not work – and that Ministers rejected a more effective solution put forward by the advertising industry without good reason.  

We support holistic, evidence-led, and proportionate policies which can be shown to have a positive impact on obesity levels. 

More resources and documents on our work on HFSS can be found on the Knowledge Hub here.  

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 Draft 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 have 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

Channel 4 Ownership

The Government is currently considering the future ownership of Channel 4. ISBA opposes the channel’s privatisation. Its unique remit provides advertisers with highly valued, younger and diverse audiences, at scale and in quality environments, at a time when these audiences are becoming increasingly hard to reach through linear TV.  

Channel 4 has led the field with its BVOD services, which again deliver brand-building advertising to sought-after audiences. The channel also supports the UK’s world-leading creative sector, on which local advertising production depends.  

No new owner, with a purely commercial incentive, could be guaranteed to maintain all the facets of the current offering, which contributes so significantly to media plurality and diversity in the UK.  

ISBA’s work has included consultation responses on the proposed change of ownership of Channel 4, with evidence submitted to both the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport and the House of Lords Communications and Digital Committee.

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.