The British Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, has resigned, ending his somewhat scandal-ridden tenure in the top post of UK politics. From lockdown parties to accusations of corruption, it’s safe to say that Johnson’s time at Number 10 Downing Street was divisive.
It is therefore unsurprising that many brands lept on his departure as an opportunity to engage with consumers around the day's top news while having a bit of fun at the soon-to-be-ex-Prime Minister’s expense. Given that many of the Conservative Party’s own supporters were calling for him to step down, this was also a relatively safe opportunity for brands to comment on politics without really alienating any of their target audience.
Save for his most fervent supporters, it’s safe to say that consumers on the political right, as well as left, were happy to see BoJo go.
So without further ado, let’s round up the best brand reactions to Boris Johnson’s resignation.
British frozen-food specialists, Iceland, were quick to the draw — actually tweeting their response to the Prime Minister’s downfall a day before his actual resignation. As such, the joke focuses on the resignation of Johnson’s cabinet members that took place on July 6, and the clearly impossible task that he faced in finding loyal MPs to fill key government posts.
Real-estate brand Zoopla saw Number 10’s sudden vacancy as an opportunity to promote their own services with a wry ad that appeared in The Sun newspaper.
The fact that this ad appeared in a conservative-leaning publication demonstrates just what a safe target Boris Johnson was for brands to lampoon.
Gift card brand Thortful jumped onto the news of BoJo’s resignation with an aptly timed offer on leaving cards — backed up by a genuine offer code: BIGDOG. Clever!
Scottish craft beer brand, BrewDog — no stranger to limited edition beers with topical names — decided to brew a commemorative brew in honor of the exiting Prime Minister.
They held a poll to decide the best name and “Lie-PA” (a play on the beer style, IPA — and a nod to the Prime Minister’s shaky relationship with the truth) won.
Despite a recent scandal that saw allegations of toxic behavior leveled at its own leadership, the Scottish punk-styled brand didn’t mince words — resulting in one of the most partisan reactions to the resignation. Though it bears repeating that an anti-establishment streak has been a core part of BrewDog’s brand identity since its conception.
Available to pre-order, the beer’s product page on the BrewDog website reads:
“A beer fit for a work party. Boris Lie-PA is a resignation hazy IPA brewed to celebrate the next chapter. Soft, fruity, fresh and beautifully balanced, Boris Lie-PA is here for a limited time, so don’t expect this beer to outstay its welcome.”
5. Burger King
Not content in keeping their commentary confined to Twitter, beef sovereigns Burger King worked with ad agency BHH to send a digital billboard van to tour Westminster. Arriving just hours after the Prime Minister’s resignation, the billboard bore the following message for all to see: “Turns out there is such a thing as too many whoppers”.
Not wanting to be outdone by fast-food rivals Burger King, KFC also got in on the action — using the breaking news story to carry out a little employer branding and promote their latest hiring round.
A bespoke website offering roles in and around Westminster with copy such as:
_“Are you a former Trade Envoy or Secretary of State? Looking for a new challenge? One with long-term prospects? We'd love to have you on the team at any of our restaurants. Apply here.”
And while the site does have a clear tongue-in-cheek tone, it genuinely links to the brand’s careers page and cleverly uses Johnson’s scandal-ridden government as a great way of highlighting the perks of working at KFC.
By reacting to big news events like this, brands are not only able to generate publicity but can help build closer bonds with consumers by reflecting their values. With 60% of consumers in the UK more likely to purchase from a brand that does so, it's easy to see why brands were so quick to jump on Boris Johnson’s resignation.
Without having to commit too much to a particular political message, or really pick a side, brands were able to create content that resonated with a broad mix of conservative and progressive consumers alike.