Top marketers react as the UK votes for Brexit

Marketing Week has spoken to senior marketers about how the Brexit vote will impact their marketing budgets, the wider marketing community and why the Leave campaign had the upper hand.

Aviva CMO Jan Gooding


On why marketers must focus on the needs of consumers
Our focus today is in ensuring our customers are as protected as possible from the market volatility and continue to have a good experience when they deal with us.

Until political negotiations are underway we cannot understand what changes there may be. Aviva has conducted extensive analysis of the possible implications of a vote to leave the EU and considers it will have no significant operational impact on the company.

As a marketing community there is much to reflect on in terms of how we engage people in financial and economic matters. Savings and investments are so important for everyone’s own sense of security about the future. We will continue to think about how we can help our customers protect what matters to them and provide for the people they love – as we always have. That has not changed.

As a brand we will navigate this period of uncertainty by focusing on the needs of customers in each of the 17 markets in which we operate and protecting their interests as best we can. CMO Paul Troy


On budgets
I see no impact on our category as its highly competitive and if anything would do better in a recession compared to many other categories as consumers look to save money.

On the wider economic impact
Global organisations like Google may well consider Dublin or another EU base versus London given our decision to leave. Facebook already has a base there.

On the remain and leave campaigns
The leave camp had a cut through message repeated in answer to every question “take back control” which was effectively communicated by every speaker on their side in every single debate. Donald Trump used the same approach with his “Make America Great” messaging again getting cut through to the voters in the US.

Remain lacked that single-minded focus on messaging.

Finally, Boris’s last speech stuck an emotive note with his call for “Independence day” invoking voters to vote for their “Freedom”

Hostelworld CMO Otto Rosenberger


On budgets
In the short term, I don’t believe this will affect marketing budgets until we have a clearer view on the exit plan. In the medium to long term, in our industry we will need to understand how this decision impacts the mindset and shopping behaviour of travellers from the UK and coming to the UK.

On the wider economy
A Britain that is not part of the EU could potentially make other tech and creative hubs like Dublin or Berlin more attractive to companies who seek frictionless access to the European market of 500 million consumers. In addition, Britain will not be part of the single digital market initiative that could drive digital industry growth.

On leave versus remain
The Remain campaign could not communicate the benefits of EU membership in a positive way, through facts or appealing to the emotional side. The Leave camp seems to have been able to channel the anger and frustrations of people outside London, Scotland and Northern Ireland through its campaign often focused on fear.

Mozilla’s global marketing director John Bernard


On marketers being prepared
They are not. If you look at how the markets reacted and sterling against other currency markets no one thought this was really going to happen. I don’t believe marketers were prepared for this eventuality.

On the impact to marketing budgets
Over the next few years we are in the unknown on how this will affect marketing teams, and marketing budgets. But there are obvious things such as import costs, transporting goods and services, how much goods and services in Europe will cost to the consumer.

On the wider economy
Here is the wonderful thing we are a digital world, we are all online, we are a global economy I actually think there will not a huge impact. We will continue to see investment in the UK because we are still trading with a multiple of countries, including in Europe. You will continue to see investment in the UK from global companies, this will not change anything.

Foxtel’s former marketing boss Ed Smith

On the economic impacts
While there might be a period of economic uncertainty, the UK is still I think the fifth largest economy in the world. While there might be some retribution from France and Germany in the short term, the world is big and there are a lot of partners you can trade with. Asia and China are massive powerhouses. The UK is good at what it does in the services economy and in banking and media. I’m sure they will weather the storm.

On how people living outside London view Brexit
The first thing I noticed was a really big lack of trust of London. I don’t have a lot of experience up there yet but just from those three cities and when I was talking about Brexit and those things, people don’t feel understood and they don’t feel represented. Everyone in London’s house prices have doubled in the last 10 years – no one else’s has. They really feel hard done by.

I reflected on the lack of racial and religious diversity in government, but also in marketing organisations. I look around at Cannes and there are a lot more men than women. All the men – or 99% of them – are white or Judeo-Christian. The leadership of the country, our businesses and our marketing organisations don’t really represent the populations we’re selling to.”

On UK businesses hiring
There’s a chance France and Germany will be quite punitive quite quickly and a lot people have been talking that some businesses will cease some investment plans. They’ll definitely hold off on hiring more people. Within a year we’ll probably see some relatively significant staff reductions as they look to see where they locate headquarters and things, but again I just think businesses are going to have to see how it plays out – if this is the beginning of the destabilising or unraveling of Europe, why would you move your headquarters from London to Europe? But if this is the beginning of the unraveling of the UK and Europe doubles down and becomes strong then you would. So I think its going to play out slowly.

Additional reporting by Michael Barnett and Jonathan Bacon