The Drum's Campaign of 2016: Vote Leave (find out why)
There could be only one choice when it came to this year’s most effective campaign - Vote Leave.
Regardless of whether you agree with the post-truth ethics that ultimately swung the referendum vote, the campaign was undoubtedly effective.
As worrying as the Remain campaign’s vision of a UK on the cusp of financial meltdown post-Brexit was, it couldn’t match the ‘sense of injustice’ that the ‘Leave’ campaign mined expertly – even if its claims weren’t always true.
However, it’s fine to be more wrong than right in political advertising. Despite 177 complaints against ads to the Advertising Standards Authority for the Leave campaign, the watchdog found itself powerless to act as political ads are exempt from the Advertising Code.
No image better sums up this paradox than the Vote Leave battle bus. Paraded up and down the country, it was plastered with a pledge that that key Brexiteer Nigel Farage has since admitted was a mistake.
Granted, it’s nothing new for a politician to backtrack on a pledge but it’s the sheer brazenness that Farage and his fellow campaigners had unshackled themselves from the constraints of evidence and more importantly the public’s willingness to accept it that has thrust the world into what many political commentators have dubbed the age of post-truth politics.
Politics aside, the Vote campaign is a true triumph for the traditionalist marketer. Old tools and old tactics. TV, brand and message. It shows brands matter more than ever. Had the ‘Remain’ camp had someone with the same charisma as Farage or Boris Johnson then the result may have been different. All the fear-mongering in the world can’t trump that. It shows brands matter more than ever.
The Brexit campaign was arguably the first manifestation of this on a grand scale, providing the template for the likes of Donald Trump to follow suit.