Senior Murdoch lobbyist quits for ad industry role

One of Rupert Murdoch's top lobbyists has left to ­oversee public affairs for the advertising industry.

Jonathan Collett has quit his job as public affairs manager at News International to join the Advertising Association in the specially created role of communications and strategy adviser.

The appointment comes as the ad industry finds itself under attack from campaigners who accuse it of exposing children to inappropriate sexualised images, promoting unhealthy food and glamourising alcohol through sports sponsorship.

Collett, a former aide to ex-Conservative Party leader Michael Howard, will attempt to rebuild the reputation of the advertising industry among decision makers in Westminster.

He said: ‘There is a crying need to make a positive case for the advertising industry. It has a good, strong case about the good it does for society that needs to be heard. It's arguably the most important creative industry and does a huge amount for the British economy.'

He added that he wanted to modernise the association's communication strategy. ‘I will try to create a new positive language for the industry. My role will involve influencing key opinion formers - politicians, academics and journalists, to change the message that we get across.'

News International said it would not replace Collett in the role of public affairs manager. Collett spent just a year in the job, reporting to executive director James MacManus.

Prior to News International, he spent five years in various roles at the Conservative Party, including 18 months as press spokesman for Howard while he was party leader.

The Advertising Association is a federation of 31 trade bodies and organisations representing the ad and marketing industries.

Collett will report to chief ­executive Baroness Peta Buscombe.

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