a view on UKIP’s posters

There’s been a bit of a hoo-ha in the press today about UKIP’s new outdoor campaign, some executions of which, it’s been suggested, could be interpreted as racist.


Rather than paid for by UKIP itself, the media and creative has been funded by Yorkshire entrepreneur and long-term Euro-sceptic Paul Sykes.

But is the campaign racist? It’s certainly European-ist and aimed squarely at pushing the buttons of the Daily Mail reading, panic-stations floating voter who can’t find a party far enough to the right for them in the forthcoming Local and European elections.  But is it using unemployment as the emotive hook or racism?  It depends on which way you look at it.

I worked on Mr Sykes’ first ever anti-European campaign (under the banner of the Referendum Party) over a decade ago when I was a junior planner at his then agency-of-choice. Mr Sykes was, shall we say, very hands on and I doubt that his current agency’s creative team have had much input into this week’s posters. To be honest, I doubt the agency planners have had much to do with them either as back in the day Planning’s role was purely to provide the data to back up whichever claim of doom and gloom they were going with that week.

You’ve got to give Paul Sykes credit for persistence and dedication – I recon he’s spent well over £5M over the years on campaigning against the UK having pretty much anything to do with the European Union. And he certainly knows how to push the media’s buttons and get a load of free exposure for his message out of it.

He was and probably still is quite a high-maintenance client so well done to his current agency for actually getting something out of the door. You’ve also got to credit his original agency for going above-and-beyond the call of duty, as I remember two senior members of staff discovering a political calling virtually overnight and standing as Referendum candidates in the national election that year. Has anyone warned the account handlers at his present outfit?

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