Challenger branding with Nigel and Boris

Agony uncle and University of Westminster's visiting professor of PR Trevor Morris gives it to you straight.

Nigel Farage is a PR natural like Boris Johnson. What lessons can we learn from them?

By PR natural I assume you mean that parts of the media and public like them, rather than that they are talented creators of content and guardians of corporate conscience.

Their key characteristics in terms of public appeal are (a) they are seen as largely bullshit-free,(b) they are quite smiley and affable and (c) they have no real power and are therefore not to blame for the state of the country.

Are there PR lessons to be drawn from this? Well, can Tesco be more like Waitrose? Can Barclays be more like Virgin Money? The answer is maybe, but probably only by being a lot smaller.

Large market-leading companies have real power, which makes them unpopular and a target for any NGO or activist group with an axe to grind. Big companies need broader leadership than one charismatic, affable individual. But challenger brands would do well to mimic the dynamic political duo’s plain-speaking and affability.

Currently Boris and Nigel are challenger brands. The hard work will begin when (and if) they become powerful market-leading brands. At that point, avoiding corporate speak and messy compromise will become somewhat harder.

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