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To understand Trump and Brexit, you need to understand marketing.

3 min read

Back to Blog

3 min read

To understand Trump and Brexit, you need to understand marketing.

Posted in Marketing on 16th November 2016 11:00 am

When it comes to marketing campaigns, as consumers we understand that large conglomerates have access to vast budgets to create content that convinces us to buy their product offering.

Consequently, consumers are becoming increasingly sceptical of these campaigns, and are more critical of how businesses approach us.

It is less obvious that political campaigns have just as much marketing power behind them, but they do.

The similarity of the US election and Brexit campaigns reveals the identical processes that were used during their planning stages. These parallels can be best explained through the STP process.

STP, or segmentation, targeting and positioning is a process followed by marketers to ensure their campaigns are well planned and will have the maximum impact.


The first stage of a marketing campaign is to determine which segment of the population is our target market. We do this by deciding upon various things such as, demographics, interests, and behaviours.

When looking at the graphs below from the BBC, there is a distinct similarity in the demographics of the Brexit and Trump voters.

To understand Trump and Brexit, you need to understand marketing.

For both campaigns, the over forty-five white voters were in the majority.

Both segments had major concerns about immigration. Whereas, young British voters tended to be in favour of remaining in the EU, and young American voters were more opposed to Trump.


In marketing, targeting refers to how the product or service is adapted to appeal to the segmented target audience.

Within the context of the Trump/Brexit campaigns, an example of this was the slogans used.

Britain’s Leave campaign’s slogan was ‘Take back control’, which has a similar tone to Trumps ‘Make America great again’.

Both slogans seem to play upon a desire to attain a sense of national greatness that once was. The nostalgia that these slogans play upon contribute to the appeal for the older generation of voters.

On the other side of the coin, Hillary Clinton’s ‘Fighting for us’ slogan also has a similar tone to Brexit’s Remains slogan ‘Stronger Together’. Both campaigns created a feeling of unity and equality amongst the population which resonated with the younger voters.


In marketing terms, positioning refers to the manipulation of the perception of a brand or product compared to the perception of other brands.

In the context of Brexit, Nigel Farage and Michael Gove positioned themselves as speaking up for the concerns of ordinary people as opposed to what they claimed was a smug and distant political elite represented by the Remain campaign. Similarly, Trump used his outsider status to play up to the criticism of mainstream politics.

This positioning was very effective with regards to the segmented and targeted audience, as it tapped into the older generation’s worries and potential cynicism at the current government.

The Trump and the Leave campaign recognised an increasing worry about immigration within a specific target audience. They understood the influence of this audience, and adapted their campaigns accordingly.

With the STP process in mind it is interesting to consider how we view these two political campaigns. Often we view political campaigns as more authentic than corporate advertising,

It is easy to imagine the hundreds of thousands of dollars that have gone into Coke’s recent campaign, however the political equivalent is hidden behind a seemingly authentic person giving personal views.

 A person will always seem more authentic than a brand.

Despite this, an incredible amount of campaign planning and marketing budget was used for both the Trump and Brexit’s Leave campaigns. This becomes more evident when comparing both side by side.

It isn’t a coincidence that both campaigns have distinct similarities, it is merely down to the fact that they both used the STP process to their advantage.

If you enjoyed this blog, you may enjoy reading – How social media changed the US election result and What would Brexit mean for marketers?

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