Brexit vote shows catastrophic failure of communications
A view from Claire Beale

Brexit vote shows catastrophic failure of communications

The referendum result is a story of many parts but one of them is certainly the catastrophic failure of the communications industry to mount a coherent and powerful pro-EU message.

For the last couple of weeks we've waited and waited for the big debate-defining advertising image that voters would carry with them to the polling booth. Instead we had a confused and disconnected dribble of small ads that felt like the bland result of committee decision-making.

Perhaps it's not surprising. Apparently every Friday in recent weeks the Remain camp visited an array of ally agencies, from Adam & Eve/DDB, to M&C Saatchi, Saatchi & Saatchi, WPP's key creatives and more, to see what ideas they had. Then taking this bundle of diverse thoughts, they prevaricated and debated and the clock ticked.

I've been shown many brilliant executions that different agencies have offered up, some of which got the nod only to be pulled at the 11th hour, often without explanation or alternative. Some agencies, like Adam & Eve with their "Don't fuck my future" films, have gone commando and launched their own salvos. Many – perhaps most – of our industry's best pro-Remain ideas were left on the table. The desperate frustration of the agencies involved has been painful to witness; the result – today's decision – will mean real pain.

The mighty collective power of the UK's £20bn advertising industry – which has been united in its support for Remain – has failed to find the compelling messaging we so desperately needed. Shame on us.