Political

Why “Bollocks to Brexit” is working for the Liberal Democrats

In the latest episode of Never Mind The Bar Charts, Stephen and I discussed the controversial and successful Liberal Democrat slogan for these European elections: Bollocks to Brexit.

A sign of its expected controversy was that only the ‘special’ edition of the party’s European manifesto has this on the front page. An alternative, blander front page is on the normal version. Yet since its launch, the controversy has greatly abated in the face of its success.

In one respect, this is not remarkable: successful slogans are punchy, clear and use normal language. This has them all.

It also reflects much of the broader advice for companies and their brands as to what makes for a successful brand. Richard Reed, founder of Innocent Drinks, recently put it succinctly:

People are challenged in the amount of attention they have. They only care about a few things. You only have a split second to get consumer attention. If you’re a brand who is lucky enough to capture that split second of attention, you better make sure you’re clear and consistent and that you land the message clearly…

It’s about simplification, and then it’s about exaggeration. That’s what great brands do. You boil it down to a few simple, single words that represent what it is you stand for. And then you use all the tools to dramatize and exaggerate.

In politics that converts, to lift a phrase from Mark Twain, to requiring, “A minimum of sound to a maximum of sense” in your slogan.

Bollocks to Brexit, with its brevity and its clarity, manages just that.

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9 responses to “Why “Bollocks to Brexit” is working for the Liberal Democrats”

  1. Someone has recently stuck ‘Bollocks to Brexit’ lapel stickers on gates and dog-poo bins in my rural locality, on the SW Coastal Path and AONB. The stickers are not, I think, Lib Dem in origin, but thanks to our adoption of that slogan, some locals are now posting on social media with #libdemslitteringcountryside, and complaining that they would not like their grandchildren to read them.

    What looks brilliant in London, doesn’t necessarily translate well to the rural areas of the UK, which come to think of it is one of the reasons we, as a nation, are in the mess we are in.

    • It’s a shame to hear about that littering. I’m not quite sure how you then make the step to differentiating between London and rural areas though Jane? Littering and flyposting are both rural and urban issues – and conversely, the evidence in the polling is that the Lib Dems are doing better with Remain voters regardless of whether those voters are rural or urban. So where does the ‘it looks different in London’ bit come from?

  2. When writing Focuses I was once told the most successful Focus was one that you could read between the doormat and the kitchen bin.

    The glory of Bollocks to Brexit catchphrase is that it iss firmly embedded in memory, mind and emotion even before bending over to pick up the leaflet.

  3. I drove through the Quantocks and Exmoor two years ago and my view of the AONB was spoilt by large blue signs on roadsides of country lanes saying ‘vote conservative for Strong and Stable Leadership’

    • You mean they hadn’t mostly been amended, as they were in North Norfolk, to “Weak and Wobbly”?

      PS – I want to found something called Guilty Drinks.

  4. Hi Mark, Where is your evidence to say this it is successful? Libdems Support was growing before this controversial slogan. To me it feels negative and unworthy of the remainer position. More a BXP style of slogan.

  5. Simplifying and then exaggeration is what Farage does so well and most people aren’t that interested in the nitty gritty of politics. Bollocks to Brexit is challenging him where it hurts and helping to unite the Remain vote.
    I’m hoping our next slogan will be “P… off to poverty” backed up by fully costed policies of course.

  6. Why are the Lib Dems demanding a second referendum? Surely if they win a general election they have a mandate to implement their policies. And if their policy is “stop Brexit”, they could do so without a referendum. At present they are putting a future Lib Dem government at risk of having to implement the policy to which they are so opposed.

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