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Brexit’s ‘Remain’ campaign struggled to grasp electorate, ad chief says

The downfall of the "Remain" campaign during Brexit was due to its inability to understand the electorate, according to the advertising chief enlisted to run the campaign.

M&C Saatchi's worldwide chief executive, Moray MacLennan told CNBC in the latest episode of Life Hacks Live, how M&C Saatchi's unsuccessful Remain campaign struggled to grasp what the British people were really thinking about.

"Everyone thought it was about leaving the European Union. I'm not sure it was. It wasn't about that. It was about something else."

"I could make excuses about the 'Remain' campaign. But us together with lots of other people didn't actually have a deep accurate insight into what was going on inside people's heads," added MacLennan.

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M&C Saatchi was enlisted to run the advertising for the Remain campaign in Britain's EU referendum in June last year.

Having fronted victorious general election campaigns for the Conservative party, for Margaret Thatcher in the 70s, and more recently for David Cameron in 2015, the Saatchi name has a great historic political background.

Though not involved with June's general election, MacLennan described how political campaigns have changed in recent years.

"We've just seen in the last election how things are changing with all the online advertising basically, and how that's affected I think how politicians behave, as well as how you need to advertise to the electorate."

"So it's fascinating, it's different, it's highly accountable," said MacLennan.

Postcards showing the British Union flag, also known as Union Jack, sit on display at a souvenir store near to the Elizabeth Tower, also known as 'Big Ben', in London, U.K.
Luke MacGregor | Bloomberg | Getty Images
Postcards showing the British Union flag, also known as Union Jack, sit on display at a souvenir store near to the Elizabeth Tower, also known as 'Big Ben', in London, U.K.

Though failing in the EU referendum to get into the hearts and minds of the electorate, MacLennan now sees that diversity of people is vital to any advertising team.

"Hiring people who look at the world differently not like myself; I think you need to have an understanding of people and an insight into people. And that's half the battle," said MacLennan.

"It's imaginative things which enter people's heads. It stays there, it captures their imagination, and they share it."

MacLennan further explained, "They engage with it, it emotionally engages with them and it's people who can do that. And I think a lot of it is looking at the world slightly different and coming up with an original thought."

Life Hacks Live is a series produced by CNBC International for Facebook, where tomorrow's leaders get to ask some of the world's biggest influencers for advice. You can watch the full episode here.

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