Brand Boris kicks off major comms campaign
It’s interesting to see what people think of Boris being crowned PM. Most agree he is a bit of a buffoon – but I have also picked up on a somewhat reticent admission that he may actually be able to move us out of the Brexit mud we have been stuck in for so long.
Certainly, those of us in the marketing industry generally like to debate the merits (or lack of them) of brand Boris. However, one thing we tend to agree on is that Boris and his team have a much better understanding of communication than most politicians.
A significant Facebook ad campaign started on 24 July the day he took office. In the advert, Boris gives his priorities and ask us to give ours by completing a survey. This attempt at data collection could be part of a bigger move to gather information ready for a general election. (How political parties use Facebook is another debate entirely, see Netflix – The Great Hack.)
The new PM is also going to blitz the country with a marketing campaign designed to reassure doubters that a no deal Brexit will not be as bad as they ‘end of the worlders’ say it will. The campaign is reported to be the biggest ever in peacetime with a Treasury source quoting an advertising bill of £100m, quite a big chunk of the £1bn no-deal budget allocated by the new Chancellor. It sounds like a public information campaign that one would expect to see during war time.
In The Spectator, Fraser Nelson discusses how the new government style will reshape the old ways at Westminster and how Boris has commenced his premiership using the techniques of modern campaigning – a Donald Trump innovation – never stop campaigning.
As yet, it’s not clear how much influence Carrie Symonds has on Boris and the campaign generally. PR Week listed her as second in the top 10 political communication figures of 2018 and so she is clearly respected and experienced. However, senior adviser Dominic Cummings, a key figure in Vote Leave, will no doubt have a lot of sway.
Regardless of political persuasions it will be interesting to see how his unconventional style of government will work and of course, whether it will last beyond October. For now, the Boris bounce has seen a 10-point lead over the Labour Party - but whether that is sustainable remains to be see.
History has shown that brands win on sentiment rather than data or rational argument and whether Boris can succeed in winning hearts, rather than minds, will rely very much on the success of his communication strategy.