After months (and years) of anticipation, Britain’s EU referendum campaign came to an end, leaving a trail of media chaos in its footsteps and a sizeable dent in the countries morale. It seems that the EU referendum not only engulfed the press and caused a whirlwind of national dispute, it also epitomised the development of how brands are now taking a stronger stand on public, political and social issues, demonstrated by how some companies used strategic marketing campaigns to position their own views on whether to ‘Remain’ or ‘Leave’.

Amongst the most talked about brands that publically shared their stand point on this topic was the budget airline Ryanair, driven by the views of chief executive officer Michael O’Leary. For the two days surrounding the poll, the airline was offering significantly cheaper flights to the UK for as little as £19.99. Of course, this act was not simply an act of generosity and the brand messaging around this represents how companies are nowadays building much stronger identities.

The promotion was designed to incentivise more than 1.2 million British expats in Europe to fly home to make their vote and effectively encouraged them to choose to ‘Remain’ within the EU. However, as well the price slashes, the airline didn’t stop there to show their views of the referendum.

In addition to the reduction in flight prices, Ryanair also created controversial advertisements to promote their tactical marketing campaign. As well as ads that stated ‘Fly home to vote to remain in the EU’ one image displayed the superimposed faces of Boris Johnson, Nigel Farage and Michael Gove onto the faces of monkeys with the caption ‘See no Europe, hear no Europe, speak no Europe’. The airline’s actions certainly caused a stir in the media; however it does force us to question: should brands be influencing politics and more importantly our personal views?

This is a clear example of how the ‘Pro-social’ trend is on the rise within the world of marketing. Brands are becoming more politically disruptive, taking larger risks with their messaging, and touching on previously taboo issues such as gender equality, social justice, climate change and racism. On one hand this tactic is shying away from neutral attitudes, allowing brands to morally engage with consumers on a deeper level, on the other, it is allowing space for criticism that could harm their reputation.

We’ll be keeping our eyes peeled for more brands that are building on this growing trend – so keep reading.

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