Brexit – a comms analysis

We don’t know if you’ve heard, but last month Britain voted to leave the European Union. And, in the process, ushered in one of the most surreal fortnights in living memory. 

First, and true to form as an unerring bellwether of national bewilderment, the English football team bowed out of Euro 2016 with all the grace and humility of a Nigel Farage resignation speech. Next up, the pound promptly plummeted to its lowest level in 30-odd years and the UK’s hallowed credit rating took an almighty kick in the triple As. 

In the political sphere, two party leaders (and counting) have resigned, Her Majesty’s Opposition has been plunged into an existential crisis and the government has opened in the West End with its latest Game of Thrones reenactment. Sorry, ‘leadership election.’

All in all, a pretty quiet month, really.

‘Lions led by donkeys’

We’re not about to give a blow-by-blow analysis of the campaign. But one thing that did strike us, particularly about the Remain campaign, was just how disjointed its message was.

With so much at stake, it was perhaps unrealistic to hope for an uplifting message on either side, but if they couldn’t be conciliatory, surely they could at least be consistent, right? Wrong.

Instead, what we saw from the Remain side was conflict, confusion and crossed purposes throughout.

Conservative Remainers nailed their colours to the mast of ‘Project Fear’ and nailed a few of their eurosceptical colleagues to the wall in the process. Labour luminaries either didn’t bother campaigning or campaigned against a ‘Tory Brexit’.  A seemingly endless procession of experts popped up to warn simply against ‘uncertainty’ (because, by definition, there’s no more succinct and compelling a concept than uncertainty). And everyone else just attacked Boris.

It has since emerged from a few of the creative agencies engaged by the Remain campaign that the lack of unity – and lack of strategy – was systemic.

“We were lions led by donkeys,” was one rueful – though mercifully anonymous – appraisal.

By contrast, the Leave side, though arguably comprising similarly dissonant factions, did at least coalesce around one or two central (if dubiously conceived) statistics. And a rallying cry of ‘Take back control’, which punctuated every public pronouncement.

Simple. Straightforward. Emotional. And ultimately successful.

 

Nothing succeeds like simplicity

If this campaign demonstrates anything, it’s the value of being able to tell people, in a simple, straightforward way, who you are and what you do. Right or wrong, it was also a highly emotive argument.

The truth is that no one really knows what will happen next.

But while the unknown represents risk, it also presents opportunity. And we believe the companies best-placed to seize that opportunity will be those who understand and can articulate the simple truth at the heart of their business.

That’s what we mean when we talk about Finding True.