Brexit: The Movie shows the power of simplifying the story

The most common criticism of your opponent's campaign is that it represents nothing more than a "chaotic talking shop". This is something aimed levelly and squarely at the Brexit campaign on a daily basis.

Brexit: The Movie is easily digestible, witty and hedging its bets, writes Nicholas Dunn-McAfee
Brexit: The Movie is easily digestible, witty and hedging its bets, writes Nicholas Dunn-McAfee
Premiering last night and featuring everyone from Lord Lawson, Kate Hoey MP and Nigel Farage through to Tyne fish workers and a Tate & Lyle Sugar factory manager, Brexit: The Movie aimed to remedy this and turn criticism firmly in on itself.

With an aim to reach as many people as possible before the referendum, the intellectual cogs of the movie are the experts, or those on the front line of the EU at work. 

Commentary from director Martin Durkin spliced with interview snippets with Eamonn Butler, Lord Howard and Liam Fox gave us the economic, political and social view respectively. 

With people like Dan Hannan MEP already churning out popular, pro-freedom, video interviews, it isn’t hard to see these snippets or chapters being shared across social media or to see the entire movie as being designed to be broken up and used across formats. 

Even on the question of national sovereignty, content is king. 

If PRs think of content as something a person is willing to spend time on then we can see how precisely this fits into the referendum decision-making process for swing voters; it’s easily digestible, witty and hedging its bets with a range of partisan and non-partisan experts.

Arriving fairly late to the campaign, though not at the endgame, Brexit: The Movie is not perfect; it feels a little too late and a little too stretched. 

There is one major advantage to the timing: it brings us back to the key messages. 

The film tells us again and again that the EU is "unaccountable", "corporate" and that it does perverse things. 

As Vote Leave whirls away with sharp rebuttals and an argument that ranges from protecting the NHS to halting political integration, the movie can bring the campaign back to the level of core values: democracy and accountability. 

And it speaks to the public in terms that don’t assume they have followed the official campaign so far – it doesn’t even name the Remain campaign. It’s easy to forget or neglect some of the key foundations of a campaign to keep up with the debate, maintain relevance and adapt to a changing media landscape.

Its effectiveness should be judged by whether the public can see their place among it all, rather than as a viewer looking in.

To that end, the morning of the 'EU everyman' hammers the message home. 

When you brush your teeth each morning, there are 31 EU regulations on toothpaste. From there you might open your fridge with its 83 EU regulations and grab the milk with its 12,000 EU regulations. It carries on like this. 

Durkin’s observation that "the EU surrounds us like invisible barbed wire" summaries what the Brexit campaign has been missing. It’s the permission to think of the status quo as fundamentally complex, unsafe and unsustainable.

Brexit: The Movie delivers something more important and one all campaigners and PR professionals can take away: hinge your argument not on lofty concepts but on the everyday.

Nicholas Dunn-McAfee is head of public affairs, policy and research at the PRCA

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