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Advertising Brexit Channel 4

'Take back remote control': Channel 4 Brexit bus stunt promotes Cumberbatch drama


By John McCarthy | Opinion editor

January 7, 2019 | 3 min read

Channel 4 has been parading around the UK in the infamous Brexit Bus to promote its Benedict Cumberbatch-fronted drama delving into the murky dealings of the EU referendum back in 2016.


Cumberbatch poses in front of the Brexit Bus

Promoting Brexit: The Uncivil War which airs 9pm on Monday 7 January, the broadcaster and agency partner Taylor Herring toured the influential bus around the country – but with a new message.

‘Take back the remote control’ subverts the ‘take back control’ rhetoric issued by the Leave movement before, and after, the 52% leave vote came in.


London, Manchester, Leeds, Birmingham, Nottingham, Leicester and Bristol will get a glimpse at the provocative activation. Research from the agency found that there have been 180 million tweets globally mentioning Brexit since the beginning of January 2016. One-third of those came from outside the UK. Channel 4 would have been no doubt aware of the interest the subject draws when commissioning the original production.

Benedict Cumberbatch stars as the Leave campaign director Dominic Cummings.

Last year Cumberbatch fronted the Sky's five-part miniseries Patrick Melrose. The in-house creative agency had Cumberbatch sitting, fully-suited, in bathwater to acquire a memorable promo.

It’s not the first-time marketers have seized upon the instant recognisability of the Brexit Bus. Fintech start-up Monese captialised on the notoriety of the bus by subverting the £350m offer with one of its own, a promotion letting people send €350m worth of money with zero fees. The bus featured the strapline ‘Take Control of your Banking’.

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