“Don’t confuse me with facts, I’ve made up my mind” would make a good slogan for either party in the Brexit bust up, now building to fever pitch as the referendum approaches.
As an adman I’ve always been rather envious of the licence granted to politicians to be economical with the truth. In our profession we have to abide by the ‘Legal, Decent, Honest and Truthful’ charter of the Advertising Standards Association. In the Commons they have no such scruples.
Of course, as any good adman could tell you, presenting the facts of the case comes somewhere down the list when it comes to the psychology of selling.
Raw emotion is a much more reliable motivator: hence the Remain camp’s persistence with Project Fear – a hangover from the Scottish referendum, somewhat ironically coined by the No campaign and exploited by the YES.
In the commercial world, lawyers and insurance agents are masters of sending a shiver down your spine. “If you should die tomorrow, would your family be provided for? Is your house under insured?” etc.
A lot of this is quite legitimate – anyone with dependents is well advised to make a will and take out life insurance. But when it comes to ambulance chasing and selling PPIs to customers who can barely afford a loan in the first place, it’s time to draw the line.
A similar line was crossed when Brexiters were branded as Quitters and Little Englanders, and the threat of nuclear Armageddon was held over their head. Or the doom-mongers claimed that our streets will be filled with hoards of pillaging rapists, or at least spongers, as soon as we vote to Remain! Be afraid, be very afraid!
I know all’s fair in love, war and politics, but the Brexit affair has turned particularly nasty and dirty. At least in the past it was managed with a certain wit and style. It’s time the respective agency wordsmiths got their acts together and tried to emulate the best.
I’m thinking of the elegant put down that dashed the career of Richard Nixon. Remember the slogan “Would you buy a used car from this man?” under a shifty eyed picture of Tricky Dicky?
Then there was the famous front page of The Sun prior to the General Election in 1992 which showed Neil Kinnock’s head in a lightbulb, with the caption, “If Neil Kinnock wins tomorrow, will the last person to leave Britain please turn out the lights?”
And in a similar vein, the Michael Foot poster – created by Saatchi and Saatchi – which showed him shuffling along with stick and duffle coat alongside the headline, “As a pensioner, he’d be better off under the Conservatives.”
Or the classic “Labour isn’t working” unemployment queue, which remained so embedded in the public conscience it could be used as a spoof to sell cake decades later! All brilliant, and brilliantly successful.
What slogan would you suggest to give the coup de grace to the Brexit or Remain faction on the eve of the Referendum? A bottle of fizz for the best suggestion emailed to me at richard [at] simpsonscreative.co.uk by the 22nd of June, assuming France is still exporting champagne to us by then!
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