To use the British snap election to introduce a younger and more politically engaged audience to The Economist, presenting the publication as the voice of reason amidst a sea of fake news. The ultimate objective was to increase engagement and subscriptions around the election, with emphasis on 16-34 year olds.
At the end of 2016, the UK was in a shaky state. Scrap that – the world was in a shaky state. Against all odds the British public had voted ‘out’ of the EU, we had a Prime Minister that nobody had elected and, across the pond, Donald Trump had taken charge of the world’s most powerful nation.
Amidst the complex and turbulent sociopolitical fall-out of these events, our bespoke insight study identified a new wave of young people who were suddenly a lot more interested in (and anxious about) world affairs – an audience of great interest to The Economist.
Sick and tired of the daily headlines that the tabloids were churning out, they were crying out for a reliable and trustworthy commentator. So when Theresa May called a snap election in June 2017, The Economist saw a perfect opportunity to step in and remind people that there was an intelligent news alternative that could help them make an informed decision.
Furthermore our insights study revealed that during key political moments our new prospects’ interest in current affairs increased significantly.
The popular consensus was that this general election was a forgone conclusion, a Tory landslide. Therefore would young people even feel compelled to vote?
We wanted to ensure that the politically engaged youth felt they had a role to play in this election. We wanted to stir them to vote, but make sure that they were absolutely clear on what they were voting for. By offering a sample of our commentary at the right time, our target would have an ‘Economist Epiphany’, feel empowered and recognise the value of our content during the election and beyond.
As soon as the snap election was announced we sprang into action, and set about becoming the voice of reason amongst the newly politically engaged youth – offering them free access to The Economist’s REAL news.
The biggest challenge was how to achieve cut-through amid the election media frenzy and find a way to make our point rather than just add to the noise. We needed to make use of The Economist’s well-known wit at the right moments and in the right channels, matching the rhythm of the election and borrowing the language of political discourse to make compelling observations, in real time.
But in order to succeed we knew we needed to take our reactive approach to all channels, not just the digital platforms most associated with agile marketing.
Our high impact, multi-media campaign harnessed the power of context, targeting prospects wherever the conversation was happening using proactive witty and intelligent messaging - “Free for Lib Dems. Gratis for Tories. Nowt for Labour” - nudging our target audience to request a free copy or subscribe at every turn.
As the campaign developed and opportunities presented themselves, we reacted in real time to join the election narrative.
Channel 4 announced its Election Debate Special - we were there. Liberal Democrats Leader Tim Farron appeared on LBC at short notice - we bought multiple spots. When the Tories and Labour jumped on Snapchat - we joined in, targeting young voters we’d identified as politically engaged.
Our print ads mimicked ballot box papers. Copy was optimised for every environment and adapted to the latest political developments.
Working through election night, we produced digital OOH, which reflected the result in key constituencies. The next morning, Advans targeted stations in these boroughs; as a surprised electorate travelled to work we asked, “What Made Richmond Park go Right?” Meanwhile Kings Cross commuters smirked at our train puns, with experiential placements collecting prospects nearby.
At the heart of our campaign was REAL news, and REAL information. Our election content hub teased out The Economist’s editorial on themes we knew from our research were troubling our audience, providing a confused and anxious audience with the means to make up their own mind.