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Campaign Magazine puts Nigel Farage on the cover: "Ad industry has 'no idea what's going on in people's lives'"

Farage proclaims in an exclusive interview with Campaign Magazine that the Ad industry has 'no idea what's going on in people's lives'.

"The advertising industry is a great industry. They still go to lunch. They like a drink. There are some very clever people in it. It’s not heavily regulated, which means you can make money. I might fancy it myself one day,"

Dearie me, will we see Nigel as head of strategy somewhere? The US ad industry still fall for that charming UK accent thing, he's basically a shoe-in. And that quip about it not being heavily regulated, ah yes. Just what we need, more ad-people in the industry only for the potential gold-carving. I smell a return of the 80s, where everyone is an influencer making money for nothing and chicks for free. Oh wait, that's already happened.

"The ad industry, like the media in general, has helped to perpetuate the myth that everyone who voted for Brexit were knuckle-dragging, tattooed, working-class scum," he tells Campaign. "These people have no idea about what’s really going on in people’s lives."

The UKIP and Brexit party ads were quite simple, bluntly to the point they didn't care if they offended or were divisive, but there's more to it than that. While some of London's creatives are recoiling in horror at seeing Nigel Farage on the cover of Campaign, and making sure all of Twitter knows how they feel about this travesty, we might actually learn something from the rise of Nigel and the Brexit party, which didn't happen overnight despite how it may seem. It took 27 years before Farage was front-page anything. 27 years of a consistent message.

"Vote for your country, vote UKIP"
"Vote for your country, vote UKIP"

Farage points out that the advertising industry 'can’t see beyond London, which is why they missed a massive market opportunity,' and at least a few ad agencies may have already realized that he had a point, as after the Brexit vote they toured Britain to seek understanding of what man on the country street really thought. 

The "breaking point" Brexit billboard.

Chancellor George Osborne, likened the poster above to Nazi propaganda. Visually it recalls Saatchi's famous "Labour isn't working" billboard, but even the Official Vote Leave campaigners despaired at this. The media furor about the poster declared this a complete backfire. But somehow, it wasn't. 

The posted did exactly what it intended to do, it kept immigration in the media spotlight for days. All adgrunts should know this trick by now. Be it featuring non-conformist Colin Kaepernick in an ad campaign that looked like an updated "Think Different", which reportedly did increase sales, or just snapping back on Twitter to anyone complaining about a rather simple poster, which spawned a hundred spoofs thereby lingering in the public consciousness longer. (From Carlsberg, Lastminute and even budding creative teams

But there was a lot more to the success of Brexit and "the brand" of Nigel Farage. It may have had its roots in "meme wars", like the ones that won Trump the US election, and the strategic use of emotional controversial posters that relied on media outrage to be amplified. Clever design also played a large part.

The Brexit Party logo
The Brexit Party logo literally points an arrow to the ballot box, as if it were instructions of where to mark your X.

As PR expert Mark Borkowski concludes, that logo is a bit of design genius.

"More than simply enjoying the implicit momentum of a symmetrical arrow, the subtle unexplained divot to the left of the arrow creates a desire in the voter to restore symmetry, by committing pencil to the blank box."

You may not like it, but he has a point.

There is a lesson to take from all of this, and it's one that I have been saying for twenty years, paraphrasing Paul Arden tutoring. Get out of advertising. Another thing I keep telling people in advertising: you are not the target audience. 

Man on the street does not work in Soho or Shoreditch, you need to not just seek inspiration from other things, but also speak to the actual man on the street. You may hate everything Nigel Farage stands for, but you can learn from the tactics used in his and the Brexit party rise. And the one thing that Farage, and Brexit party, did consistently over the years was stick to one single message at all times. I'd give my Kingdom to a client who understood how important this actually is.

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