[Revealed] What The Don Draper Of the UK Has To Say About Brexit…
I recently had the privilege of sitting down, for the second time, with the quintessential British ad man Rory Sutherland. He is basically the Don Draper of the U.K as well as being Vice Chairman of Ogilvy, one of the largest marketing and communications companies in the world.
He is known as an expert on consumer behaviour, market trends, and the influence of the internet, earning awards for his work with Microsoft, Unilever and IBM.
As well as writing a column for The Spectator he has published two books, the latest of which, Alchemy: The Surprising Power of Ideas that Don’t Make Sense, explores: why placebos are so effective, why logic doesn’t always pay, and the surprising power of ideas that don’t make sense.
Another topic he discusses in his book is how governments attempt to get things done, but don’t. As a prominent member of U.K society, I was eager to pick Rory’s brain on Brexit.
Brexit has been at the forefront of everyone’s mind. Channel 4 even recently released the drama, Brexit: the Uncivil War which stars Benedict Cumberbatch. The film explores the marketing manipulation that happened in “selling” Brexit to the people of the UK.
I wanted Rory’s opinion on how the Brexit vote was marketed to people and how that ended up actually affecting the outcome of the vote. I also wanted to explore the reality of what Brexit really means, versus how it was marketed to the people.
For any readers who are not up to date on Brexit news, Brexit (British exit) refers to the UKs plans to leave the EU. On June 23rd, 2016 a public vote was held to determine whether the UK should leave the EU and the vote resulted in 52% of voters choosing to leave the EU.
Brexit was due to happen on March 29, 2019 but has been delayed multiple times because of an inability to agree on an exit deal. The current Prime Minister, Boris Johnson has declared that the UK will leave the EU with or without a deal on October 31st.
Rory’s Personal Opinion
Rory says he is in the minority of people who are “not that bothered” about the impending exit. He voted to remain in the EU back in, 2016 stating that the EU is beneficial but poorly executed. He started leaning more toward leaving the EU recently because he believes there is a significant democratic and accountability deficit within the Union.
By this he means, “you want decisions that affect people to be taken in close proximity to the people who are affected.” Right now, he does not see that happening.
He also doesn’t believe that the EU should have adopted a flag or an anthem. He calls those moves mistakes because it shows the EU trying to take on the function of a state. He does concede that the EU could one day become more like a state; but right now, that doesn’t work.
Project Fear was a marketing campaign used by “remainers” (people who wanted to stay in the EU). Rory’s opinion is that Project Fear was a lie because the extent of the problems tied to leaving were exaggerated. He thinks that the remainers made a mistake by turning Project Fear into “Project Threat.”
Rory states, “Instead of saying there are significant disadvantages to leaving, they talked essentially about the fact that, you know, we can’t possibly leave, it’s impossible.”
This resulted in “leavers” remarking that we should have never put ourselves in such an impossible position in the first place.
Rory also comments on the EUs ability to act as a “shapeshifter” commenting, “it’s a political project when it suits it, it’s an economic project when it suits it.” This results in forcing people to make political concessions in return for putative economic gain. This only can lead to people feeling trapped.
Where Do We Go From Here?
Rory still claims that he is “totally evenhanded.” He would prefer that the UK stay in the EU; however, now the UK finds itself in the position where; in order to put democracy first, there’s the idea that it must leave because that’s what the people voted for in the first place.
He also comments that it will be a challenge mostly for the middle class of the UK, but that he believes that is a good thing since the middle class has been making the decisions for the UK for 25 years.
Rory sarcastically comments, “It’s hardly unhealthy for them [middle class] occasionally to have to do something that makes them uncomfortable.”
Rory was made a bit uneasy himself by the reaction of the EU to the leaving vote, which he believes, “cemented the leave vote.”
At the end of the day, Rory believes that Brexit is not an economic problem. He maintained that if you got a room full of economists together to look at the issue it could be solved easily. The problem is a political one. The U.K must be seen suffering in order to leave the EU. It has more to do with presenting an image for certain political gain that it does with the economics.
The fate of the U.K is still being decided with constant new developments as the exit day draws closer. In fact, as of this morning the Court of Sessions have ruled Boris Johnson’s suspension of Parliament as unlawful.
Rory has very strong opinions on Brexit. What’s yours? A lot can happen between now and October 31st, so stay informed.
Leave, or remain?
Editor, Brian Rose Uncensored