Brexit for Business on Social Media

When starting your own business it is possible from time to time to feel fear. Worry about paying the bills, worry that your idea might not be as good as you think it is, even worry that the market might move on and leave you behind. I find when I’m experiencing these moments of self doubt it is important to put life in perspective. Sure things can be tough, but at least I don’t work in the communications office for the Department for Leaving the EU. (Although on the upside if you took the job as a temp or a consultant your job stability is looking pretty good right now). 

Having spoken to a few friends who have experienced the exact same thing, it would appear that adverts offering ‘advice’ on how businesses can prepare for something that the Government can’t agree on, have inundated all of our social media feeds. Playing devil’s advocate on this, you can see how the department is in a difficult position. Do/spend nothing and they will be accused of failing to prepare. Politically, if leaving is an utter shambles, at least the UK Government can say ‘we spent £30 million (or whatever it is) trying to inform businesses how to prepare’. 

Here’s one of the adverts below from LinkedIn: 

LinkedIn I often find to be quite a dry place where sarcasm can be in short supply and people are reasonably polite in the fear of allowing their real opinions to upset their customer base. If Bill Gates had stripped naked and run around yelling ‘look now I own loads of business data too’ I don’t think LinkedIn comments could get more animated thanks to the above campaign.

If you look at this campaign analysing pure statistics I have little doubt it appears to be a success. Click rates will be sky-high, view to comment rates are likely very high and the number of people visiting the .gov website, filling out a form and getting a ‘this might happen’ response are likely very high. When you actually read the comments however the story is slightly different.


The comments aren’t supportive. 176 likes sure – but what is the real value of a like? Surely if you liked it enough you’d comment? ‘Good work guys – I was worried about Brexit but your website has really cleared things up for me’. In the same way that if you dislike something enough you comment. Which is what has happened. 

Some of the comments are hilarious. If you find yourself with a free thirty minutes today I’d strongly recommend going on LinkedIn and checking these out. There are some political ones but most are a scathing put down of an utterly pointless campaign. A far cry from Facebook’s rather dull ‘Revoke Article 50’ or ‘Leave means leave – borders – foreigners blah etc’.

I could comment on the wider consumer campaign for Leaving the EU but enough has been made of this already. In the B2B world that Media Forty Two focusses on this advert left me with a number of unanswered questions on what the purpose of the campaign in general and the advert in particular is: 

  • Is driving to a landing page enough of a CTA, if that website is utterly unclear on what to do next?
  • Have the comments on this advert ensured that this paid for activity has actually done more damage than good?
  • What is the overall goal of this campaign? To prove to businesses that Brexit is being handled competently? To provide advice even though the Department for Leaving the EU still has no idea what will happen? 
  • Are social media channels, where control is limited, the right advertising medium for a subject as divisive as Brexit?

I’d say that the private sector would never spend money this inappropriately. But having seen some spectacularly inappropriate B2B adverts for technology come up in my Facebook feed (with some equally hilarious comments) it is apparent some social marketers are not considering context. 

With this campaign a marketer would be hard pushed to justify the value. If you think you can I’d love to hear from you. 


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