Advertising agencies unveil rejected Remain campaign posters

Brexit crisis: the agencies behind the Remain advertising campaign have shared their unsuccessful designs and described a "frustrating" process that was "doomed" to fail (+ slideshow). 

Both Saatchi & Saatchi and M&C Saatchi created posters for Remain's Stronger In campaign ahead of the referendum, in which the UK voted to leave the European Union.

Image courtesy of Saatchi & Saatchi

"We never normally release work that we produced on behalf of a client but that hasn't run," worldwide chief executive of M&C Saatchi Moray MacLennan told marketing industry magazine Campaign.

"But this time is different. We are still emotionally engaged, the issue is – and will remain – of vital importance and it might help to air some of these ideas."

Rejected Remain posters

The posters criticise Leave campaigners like Nigel Farage, then head of the UK Independence Party, which came under repeated scrutiny for racist comments.

Saatchi & Saatchi's design features Farage with a black microphone placed beneath his nose to look like a Hitler-style moustache. Red text reads "Remain, sane."

M&C Saatchi also released a poster ridiculing Farage, along with other key members of the Leave camp: former London mayor Boris Johnson and Conservative party members Iain Duncan Smith and Michael Gove.

Photographs of their faces, caught in awkward expressions, appear above the line, "Do you want to be left alone on a small island with these men?"

Rejected Remain posters

M&C Saatchi's other posters focused on the unknown consequences of leaving the EU, as well as the support of the younger generation to remain.

One references a YouGov poll that found 73 per cent of 18 to 29 year olds back staying, while another shows an image of bomb with text placed within the circle of the pin reading "Don't pull out".

Rejected Remain posters

M&C Saatchi were appointed in May 2016 to lead the advertising campaign. Other agencies involved in the project included Adam & Eve/DDB and WPP.

On the release of the rejected posters, MacLennan told Campaign that the advertising scheme fell short due to a lack of direction from the Remain party.

MacLennan said it had wanted to take a positive stance about remaining in the EU, rather than emphasising risk.

Rejected Remain posters

"We said don't try to cower people into submission – encourage them to see the positives," he said. "We came up with a strategy based around 'Don't leave it, lead it' but they didn't run with it."

"At no point did we deal with the senior politicians. Instead, we were dealing with a cross-party committee and it was desperately frustrating. It was a structure doomed to failure."

He was also critical of the Remain campaign's lack of focus in comparison to the Leave camp.

Rejected Remain posters

"The Leave camp had a consistent approach and a consistent articulation around sovereignty and immigration," said MacLennan.

Prior to the referendum, German photographer Wolfgang Tillmans branded the official Remain campain "lame" and designed a set of posters that encouraged UK residents to vote to stay in the European Union.

The posters featured slogans like "What is lost is lost forever" and "Rupert Murdoch can buy the British government. But not a union of 28 countries".

The UK voted 51.9 per cent in favour of a British exit from the EU and 48.9 per cent to remain at a referendum on Thursday 23 June 2016.

Images are courtesy of M&C Saatchi, unless stated otherwise.