Britain could find itself outside of the European Union in just over a month’s time when Britons vote in the referendum on June 23.
And the increasing chance of a Brexit — Britain leaving the EU — is freaking out a lot of big businesses due to the uncertainty of what that would entail.
So, that is why Marshall Manson, UK CEO of Ogilvy Public Relations is sending out a long memo — exclusively seen by Business Insider — to all of the agency’s clients in Britain on Thursday about how a Brexit could be terrible for business and how they should engage their own customers in Britain to vote for “remain.”
This is a big deal because Ogilvy, which is one of the largest PR and marketing groups in the world, represents and works with some of most powerful companies.
Ogilvy has direct dialogue into the private sector bloodline of the economy and for the CEO to raise a call to action, could have some effect on those executives that are sitting on the fence.
Here is his personal memo (emphasis ours):
When it comes to politics, businesses are often risk averse and stay above the fray. But the threat of Brexit is far too important for business to remain on the side lines.
In 41 days, British voters may decide that they have had enough of the EU. I firmly believe that would be bad for Britain and bad for my own business.
That’s why today I’m writing personally to Ogilvy PR’s UK clients, urging them to take action to support Britain remaining in the EU and offering them a roadmap on how to engage in this crucial debate.
The result is on a knife-edge. A leave vote promises, at a minimum, two years of upheaval, as the details of a difficult separation are hashed out.
I believe it’s time for businesses of all shapes and sizes to get in the game by taking a direct and active role in support of remaining in the EU.
To do so, they need to understand the characteristics of voters that will be decisive in the referendum, and how to reach them.
The majority of undecided voters are women, centred in the 35 to 44 age group. These young (mostly) mothers are not interested in macro-economic gibberish about the billions of pounds being spent or saved by the EU.
Another crucial group is young people. They are most supportive of remaining in the EU but the least likely to vote. Given their wariness of big business, any brand dialogue with this audience needs to provide such voters with an emotionally compelling, positive rationale for going to the polls.
I have shared with our clients advice on how to engage in this debate, creatively and effectively.We’ve dug into media consumption data and polling to build a profile of where businesses can best reach these voters.
If corporates want to have an influence on this debate, they must go beyond their comfort zone. Target outlets range from commercial radio networks to big regional newspapers; crucially, they also include outlets such as Grazia magazine, which over indexes among undecided social groups by over 216.2 per cent, or This Morning, which reaches more than 5m every day.
But convincing these voters will only be successful with a message that resonates.
Drawing on political campaign techniques rooted in hard data, we conclude that businesses should focus on a remain vote being the “safer” option for Britain. This could mean outlining concrete business plans in the event of a leave vote, like being specific about planned investments that will be under threat in the case of Brexit.
As an American who has lived in London for 8 years and recently became a British citizen, I’ll be casting my vote in June to remain — not because I love the bureaucracy and anti-democratic behaviour of the EU (I don’t), but because it is, quite simply, the best thing for Britain and all of us who call it home.
Ogilvy PR’s report is just a taster of how business can consider engaging in the final stages of the referendum campaign.
Done well, businesses can make a crucial difference to secure Britain’s future. But, most importantly, it must be done — now.
Manson and some of his team at Ogilvy are publishing a report called “Get Involved”on Thursday on how businesses can and should engage in the EU referendum campaign.