The PR campaign that aimed to get Big Ben to chime at the point of the UK’s departure from the EU has failed to reach the required funding to go ahead.
The StandUp4Brexit group conceded that they aren’t able to raise the required £500k to hear the bell chime in the change, saying that the £272,000 already raised will instead go to veterans’ charity Help for Heroes.
Although the StandUp4Brexit team ran a good PR and social media campaign, securing 14,280 donations from 56 countries in under a fortnight, they did not manage to get the ambitious project over the line. They did however create a debate that trended widely across national and international media through on-line, broadcast and traditional media outlets.
Although Big Ben has chimed at significant occasions in the nation’s history, including the end of wars, New Year’s Eve, royal weddings and funerals – Brexit Party chairman Richard Tice told the BBC’s Today programme that he felt “bureaucrats in the Houses of Parliament” had blocked the idea.
In an attempt to reconcile the leave and remain public, Downing St has sought to distance itself from the Big Ben chime campaign, instead focusing on plans to mark Brexit Day with a less ambitious PR campaign – preferring a simple illumination of the whole Elizabeth Tower.
PR Campaign Evaluation
If evaluating the success of Standup4Brexit’s campaign, on one level it has clearly failed in achieving its principal aim of securing the funds needed to fulfil their aims. However, as often with PR, it has undoubtedly succeeded in getting its messages, story and position to a wide audience. It’s created engagement and debate while also successfully linking to its core messages around sovereignty, self-determination and ‘Britishness’.
The campaign has also pressured the government into marking the occasion with its own illuminations. There is even rumour that a recording of Big Ben’s chimes will be played through a loudspeaker at an event in Parliament Square. They even managed to get “provisional authorisation” from the Office of the London Mayor – a staunch Remainer.
So perhaps the Standup4Brexit campaign was not a total failure after all, but let’s hope the next concerted PR campaign is focussed on healing the Brexit rift. If used correctly, PR is uniquely placed in its ability to bring people together – then the nation will certainly have something to celebrate.