Cannes Lions

Election Campaign


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To shake a sleepwalking electorate into considering their options by popping up in unexpected places and offering The Economist’s essential perspective – and a free copy of newspaper to inform their vote.

From the eccentricity of Snapchat to reactive outdoor, we set out to adapt our message for the right environments and contexts in order to impact potential readers wherever the conversation was happening.

At its heart it was about expressing the core of the brand’s which, since 1843 has sought to engage in “a battle against wilful ignorance” whilst also earning direct subscriptions.


The biggest challenge for the team was creating a sense of relevance for potential readers. Why bother reading election analysis if the result is a foregone conclusion?

What’s more, a draining media frenzy meant we had to find a way of making our point without simply adding to the noise.

So we made full use of The Economist’s wit to shapeshift at the right moments and for the right channels, matching the rhythm of the election and borrowing the language of political discourse to make cutting observations, often in real time.

We harnessed the power of context to reach potential readers wherever the conversation was happening. Appearing in Snapchat to mock partisanship, mimicking ballot box papers in press ads and even surprising constituents travelling into London train terminals with their constituency results on the morning of the election.


The success of the campaign took many by surprise – our competitors even decided to charge The Economist more to use their advertising space because of the success of our press and digital ads.

But it was the number of new subscribers that really caught our attention. From a campaign that only set out to offer everyone a sample of The Economist, 2,878 chose to subscribe before they’d even received their free copy – delivering ROMI of £6.65:1.

We also benefitted from experimenting with how traditional awareness channels could drive direct response. Coaxing direct subscriptions from press and outdoor whilst managing lower CPAs than ever in TV despite a higher media spend. Meanwhile, our first foray into Snapchat achieved an incredible 81,000 clicks, introducing a new, younger audience to the brand in a remarkably cost effective manner with CPAs running at 33% less than our historical benchmark for digital channels.

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