‘Get Ready for Brexit’ was a £46m flop – so get ready for ‘Ready to Trade’

Engine was the lucky agency charged with the Government’s ‘Get Ready for Brexit’ campaign which has officially been deemed a waste of time and money – not for the agency or some media owners of course.

The Government ‘only’ managed to spend £46m of its promised £100m on the hapless campaign, hapless because any campaign where the brief changes half-way through is bound to be a bummer. But that’s what happened with Boris Johnson’s campaign preparing Britain for a hard Brexit, when it became increasingly obvious that Parliament would not pass the required legislation.

The National Audit Office has concluded that the Govenment “could not demonstrate that the campaign resulted in significantly better preparedness.” Meaning that few people bothered to look at the website telling us what to do about something which didn’t happen and which was never likely to. Doubt they’ll be entering this for an IPA Effectiveness Award but you never know.

But there’s more to come. On the cards, now that we have a different sort of Brexit, we await a new ‘Ready to Trade’ campaign due to begin on February 1 as post Brexit trade talks commence with the EU.

But, as with the first effort, nobody has a clue as to what’s going to happen. We know that PM Johnson says we’re finally off by the end of 2020, with or without a trade deal. Which is rather where we were with ‘Get Ready for Brexit.’ Aside from that it’s unlikely there’ll be much light shed on a trade deal until the end of the year deadline looms. So why start in February? What’s it going to tell us?

It’ll be a boon of sorts for some ad companies of course, although they run the risk of looking foolish. Still it’s an ill wind…send for M&C Saatchi? That might be asking for more trouble.

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About Stephen Foster

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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.