Inside the digital marketing push to keep the UK in the EU

The “In” campaign is in full swing. It launched on Oct. 12 and promotes Britain’s continued membership in the European Union. But the launch event of the effort, officially labeled Britain’s Stronger In Europe campaign (BSE), was almost as unfortunate as its acronym, when campaign lead Lord Rose claimed staying in the EU would save each person £480 million a year, instead of £480.

This attracted some ridicule from the press, but BSE is still trying to be taken seriously. BSE wouldn’t comment about its strategy, but the campaign has employed consulting firm Edmonds Elder, which helped lead the Conservatives to victory in May 2015. If that’s anything to go by, hyper-targeting of swing voters, plus producing interactive tools will be cornerstones of its strategy.

In Campaign

During the Conservative campaign, Edmonds Elder focused on swing voters through targeted messages on Facebook and YouTube aimed at 17 million potential voters each week. For pensioners and would-be homeowners, the campaign served up 30-second YouTube spots that focused on how a majority Conservative government would benefit them.

BSE is pushing for the U.K. to remain in Europe to keep the benefits of lower taxes on exports and freedom of trade within Europe. According to a study published by the Treasury in 2014, 3.3 million U.K. jobs are linked to trade with other European countries. Staying in the EU also means lower mobile phone fees for British when traveling in Europe.

The Conservative campaign also gave people interactive tools in exchange for providing their email addresses. These included interactive manifestos with policies targeted to those voters and an income tax calculator that would figure out your savings based on your salary and location if the Conservatives won.

“The economy was our secret weapon,” said Craig Elder, co-founder at Edmonds Elder.

With so many digital messages being blocked or ignored, Edmonds Elder understood that to keep people’s attention, they need to give them someone of value, a strategy that’s likely to be a part of the campaign.

According to Ipsos Mori, 61 percent polled were in favor of staying in the EU as of June. That gap has narrowed significantly, according to The Economist, but opinion polls proved wildly incorrect during the general election this year. So only one week into BSE’s campaign, everything is still in play.

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