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Advertising Association chief to chair parliament’s The Debating Group


Stephen Woodford, chief executive of the Advertising Association is the new chair of The Debating Group.

Woodord takes over the role from Sheriff of the City of London Andrew Marsden, who served five years in the post, after being elected at the group’s AGM earlier this month.

The Debating Group has been holding debates in the House of Commons since 1975. It brings marketers, politicians, journalists and the public together to shed light on the political issues which affect the marketing industry and is supported by a cross-section of MPs and peers from across Parliament including Tulip Siddiq MP (the Group’s President), Lord Black, Baroness Bonham-Carter, Lord McNally, Christine Jardine MP, Stephen Metcalfe MP and Daniel Zeichner MP to name a few.

The Debating Group brings together 12 organisations from the advertising and marketing spheres: the Advertising Association, Alliance of Independent Agencies, BPMA, Chartered Institute of Marketing, Chartered Institute of Public Relations, Data and Marketing Association, Independent Print Industries Association, International Advertising Association, Internet Advertising Bureau, Institute of Practitioners in Advertising, Market Research Society, and Thinkbox.

Stephen has led the Advertising Association since September 2016 and will bring a combination of experience and enthusiasm to the role. As the AA’s CEO, Stephen has brought in a new mission to advance the organisation’s workstreams on trust, climate action and inclusion, through the aims of promoting the role and rights of responsible advertising.

Woodford, said: “Firstly my thanks to Andrew for his expert steering of the Debating Group between 2016 and 2022. The Advertising Association is proud to be a founding member of The Debating Group. Debating is an important communication skill and a vital tool in any properly functioning democracy. Good debating skills teach us how to build and present information convincingly, while also listening to counterarguments and keeping an open mind to others’ viewpoints.

“The Debating Group has a strong track record of doing this for more than 50 years, instigating debates in Parliament on some of the most important topics of the day ranging from: equality, free speech, the skills gap, the value of exporting, building trust and how business can better serve society. We welcome anyone and everyone in our industry to come along and take part!”

The next debate takes place later this month on March 28 and is hosted by the British Promotional Merchandise Association, debating the motion: “Promotional merchandise is the medium which forges the most effective and long-term emotional relationship with its audience.”

Full details of future debates can be found at

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