Govt plots war-themed ‘shock and awe’ Brexit campaign

eu referendum 2The Government is giving up the ghost on its “Get ready for Brexit” messaging for a new campaign designed to shock businesses and consumers into preparing themselves for the end of the transition period on December 31.

While most issues remain unresolved, including trade deals and data transfer agreements between the EU and UK, the Government is reportedly planning to spend £4.5m on a campaign to warn about “the consequences of not taking action” ahead of the end of year deadline.

MullenLowe London is to handle the activity.

According to a briefing document found on government procurement database Tussell, “the primary focus of this phase of campaign activity is to ensure that businesses and citizens are aware of the changes that may impact them and the actions that they need to take, before the end of the transition period”.

Between July and August, the campaign aims to “inform” about the consequences and “nudge” residents into taking action now. But from September, it will move into what the document calls the “shock and awe” phase, using terminology typically used by the military on the battlefield.

There will be further phases of the campaign from December and January, once the transition phase has ended, according to the document, which calls the initiative “the most important Government campaign this year”. Quite where Covid-19 stands is anyone’s guess.

The document advises that polling from January 2020 found that 74% of UK adults had not done anything to prepare for the UK’s departure from the EU, believing that they do not need to or expect any changes. Only 8% of people had taken action, and only a further 9% said they planned to do so.

The Cabinet Office believes that businesses are reluctant to take action without certainty. The document also warns that 73% of individuals say that, since the UK has already officially left the EU, they want to see less media coverage of Brexit.

“But this doesn’t mean they are not interested in the underlying issues or implications of leaving the EU,” the document advises.

The previous Brexit campaign, devised by Engine, ran for just eight weeks from September last year,  with most of the budget going on TV, social media, outdoor, roadshows – and even branded mugs. Direct mail did not even get a look-in.

However, it was heavily ridiculed from launch, with the then Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn branding it “£100m of misspent public money”, while the Advertising Standards Authority received over 200 complaints.

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