Crap Marketing – The Big EU Referendum Comms Fail

On the downside, EU referendum campaigners on both sides are displaying a painful lack of marketing savvy. On the bright side, we might finally see the end of online passwords. Here’s some marketing-inspired news.

EU referendum comms fail

Stay and leave campaigners are pulling out the stops to shock and horrify voters into a decision. The scare-mongering is reaching monster proportions, with every disaster know to mankind – short of alien invasion – threatened by both sides. From a marketing perspective it’s lunacy. As every marketer knows, positive messages always work harder than negative ones.
Whether it’s leave or stay, these doom-laden predictions are spurious. Nobody knows what’ll happen if we leave the EU. We’ve never done it before. Nobody can predict the future, even when there’s plenty of past experience to analyse. With prior experience we could make some sensible guesses, but that’s all they’d be. In a landscape like this, where positive messages are more important than ever, I can’t remember the last time I heard one from either side. What a turn-off.

EU referendum social media fail

At the same time, both sides are missing a great opportunity to engage with voters on social media. Both campaigns have an impressive £7 million to spend, and both are focusing on Facebook. The thing is, it’s difficult to see how well the spend translates into actual votes. In 2015’s General Election, all they could do is correlate Facebook spend with the results in each targeted seat, which doesn’t mean much. As a direct marketer I’m horrified by the size of the budget compared to the lack of analytical insight.
The other problem is that politicians rarely use social media to its full extent. Most campaigns use networks like Twitter and Facebook as a broadcast platform, sending out a one-way monologue that does nothing to encourage rich, two-way conversations with voters. All this type of social media interaction does is preach to the converted, good for the ego but dangerous because it delivers false perceptions about how well a message is being received, skewed to hell.
Research reveals the most powerful influence over the way we vote is what our friends and family say. Which doesn’t leave much scope for politicians, even when they do bother to make meaningful contact with individuals.
Why are politicians failing to communicate effectively and use social media wisely? I imagine they’re being advised on what to say and how to say it by ‘experts’. Whoever these experts are, they don’t seem to know much about marketing. If I was them, I’d be ashamed.

The beginning of the end for passwords?

If you’re anything like most of us you’ll either have one password for everything, or a small collection of different passwords spread across online accounts. Very few of us go the whole hog and create a fresh, secure password every time like we’re supposed to. But with luck we might soon get rid of passwords altogether, at least on mobile devices.
Google is leading the way, announcing plans to phase out passwords for Android gadgets in favour of a ‘trust score’. The score is based on a number of different identifiers, including the devices you’re connected to, your location and biometrics like your voice, face and even typing speed.
It’s great news because it finally puts the onus on developers to build security and privacy into design instead of making it the users’ responsibility. On the other hand Google will have to continuously harvest the relevant data to maintain our trust scores, another incursion into personal privacy that a growing number of people won’t like one bit.

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