Brexit ad campaign: 'wasteful show' made by 'strutting cocks'

In November's Adwatch, 'Get ready for Brexit' was considered 'corporate mood film that didn't shine too brightly'.

'Get ready for Brexit': TV ad reminds viewers to check their passports
'Get ready for Brexit': TV ad reminds viewers to check their passports

The ineluctable nature of Newtonian time propels Adwatch this week. Deadlines. Linear time, tick-tocking us forward to political commitments that must be met, things that must be bought, articles that must be submitted. Its hands are small, but its force is mighty. So order a new solid oak table in time for Christmas and save NOW.

Nothing could sum up this linear model of time better than the government’s "Get ready for Brexit". Its big, bold Captain Mainwaring arrow chivvies things forward towards the thing that is definitely going to happen.

But didn’t.

An example, perhaps, of peacock theory, which states that a highly conspicuous, biologically wasteful show signals the presence of a robust and desirable mate. Although the dull plumage of this corporate mood film doesn’t shine so brightly, strutting cocks are most definitely revealed beneath.  

But the point of this was to prepare no-one; it’s just another move in some dark game Cummingsian chess, an outlandish spaffing of quick cash to convince people not that we would leave the EU, but that Boris really, really, really, meant it. After spending so much on so little, so very, very clumsily, surely it must be the treacherous surrender monkeys in parliament that have made a liar of him.

But Brexit teaches us, above all, that time is circular, sweeping us up and around in an orbit of eternal recurrence. That one-off furniture sale will happen, miraculously, again and again and again. The Guardian’s butterfly will find itself back in that empty room, smacking its brave little head against the sash windows of oppression. Saddest of all, those meerkat children will never grow up. They will never mate and will live forever in the pantomime of their own cloying cuteness. But hey ho. Back in the Newtonian universe, I hit my own deadline. Well, almost.

TV ads 9 September-6 October 2019. Adwatch research is conducted via an internet omnibus survey among 1,000 adults in Great Britain, aged 16-64, through Research Express, part of Kantar TNS, one of the world’s leading data, insight and consulting agencies. Data supplied by Nielsen

David Bain is founding partner at BMB