Who’ll be brave enough to take on Best for Britain’s anti-Brexit ad campaign?

Best for Britain is an organisation pledged to fight Brexit, hoping to secure a second referendum on Britain leaving the EU if, as it hopes, the UK government fails to get its Brexit bill through Parliament later this year.

To that end it’s been amassing money, £500,000 now from financier George Soros, a Hungarian who’s reckoned to have made a billion or so from betting against the pound on ‘Black Wednesday,’ when John Major’s government toppled out of the Exchange Rate Mechanism and interest rates in the UK briefly reached 20 per cent. The ERM was an early version of the Eurozone so it’s ironic that Soros is now backing the EU, if not the Eurozone.

Best for Britain (launched by campaigner Gina Miller below) is also partly crowd-funded, the more so since the Mail and Telegraph launched vituperative attacks on Soros when his donation came to light.


And what’s the money for? A six-week outdoor and digital ad campaign, aimed specifically at voters in the Midlands and the north of England who mostly voted for Brexit (London and the South East overwhelmingly voted to remain).

Logically the campaign should be aimed at MPs, specifically Labour members and the rump of the Tory party still opposed to Brexit. If they can combine then they could defeat whatever bill the Government manages to cobble together. But, as political commentator Steve Richards told an Advertising Association conference recently, the Tory MPs might have to live with the stigma of being the traitors who let in Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn (even more unpopular with the Mail and Telegraph than Soros) as embattled prime minister Teresa May could surely not survive such a defeat and a General Election might follow.

WPP boss Sir Martin Sorrell has been linked with Best for Britain, spotted attending a dinner at Soros’ house. Such an ad campaign needs an ad agency, otherwise it will be a right old cock-up. Sorrell has plenty of those at his disposal although not many with experience of political campaigns. WPP does, though, own 49 per cent of Johnny Hornby’s The&Partnership which helped Labour in the Tony Blair era. Hornby has made no secret of his opposition to Brexit, most recently in an interview with The Times at the weekend.

Other contenders? Krow handles Labour but Labour is still sitting on the fence; Corbyn has been markedly unenthusiastic about the EU throughout his long career. M&C Saatchi, the go-to agency for the Tories, handled the Remain campaign and a lacklustre effort that was. Adam&eveDDB is in charge of the AA’s pleas for a so-called soft Brexit, arguing that the creative industries depend on talent from overseas.

It’s a heck of a task. Any form of political advertising usually ends up with a committee as the client and that rarely turns out well. Any Best for Britain campaign that can be depicted as talking down to our northern cousins will be a road crash. The right wing pro-Brexit press, which also includes Rupert Murdoch’s Sun, will savage any campaign on principle.

Anyone feeling brave out there?

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About Stephen Foster

Stephen is a former editor of Marketing Week and London Evening Standard advertising columnist. He wrote City Republic for Brand Republic and is a partner in communications consultancy The Editorial Partnership.
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