For approaching 20-years Newcastle based outdoor advertising contractor Gorilla Media have staged mobile billboard campaigns for political parties, unions and lobbying organisations across the political spectrum in Westminster, Holyrood, The Welsh Parliament and across the entire UK. Even deploying their guerrilla marketing tactics to the heart of the EU at the European Parliament in Brussels.
However, after recent incidents with the public involving their advertising vehicles delivering campaigns calling for a People’s Vote and 38-Degrees targeting MP’s to reject a No Deal, they have decided to refuse to carry any Brexit related messages of any persuasion.
“Drivers reported that the mood on the streets has changed”, said Gorilla Media director David Roberts, “So I decided to see for myself”. Driving an AdVan on a number of Brexit related campaigns in Manchester, Carlisle, Ayr & Dumfries, as well as North Yorkshire and Northumberland, South Shields and Sunderland, he personally experienced incidents of verbal abuse and even threats against himself and the Ad van.”
He went on to say “Our advertising vans our a very impactful medium and people who agree with the message we are delivering have been giving us a thumbs up and taking photos of the mobile billboard and posting them on social media. On the other hand, the comments from those who don’t agree with the poster have become quite hostile. And this really has become a case of ‘don’t shoot the messenger”.
On their website www.mobile-billboards.co.uk there is a selection of campaign photographs for organisations whose messages they have delivered include Labour, Conservatives, Liberals, UKIP, Plaid Cymru parties. The Scottish Government, Regional Devolution (‘Yes’ and ‘No’ votes), lobbying organisations such as Operation Black Vote, Freedom Association, Taxpayers Alliance, Liberty, 38-Degrees. The GMB, UNITE, UNISON, AMICUS and Lloyds Bank unions, as well as environmental campaigners including The Woodland Trust, Animal Defence International, Political Animal Lobby and more….
“Of course the messages we carry don’t necessarily reflect the views of our staff or directors” Mr Roberts stressed. “but over the years we do believe the campaigns we have staged have stimulated healthy debate and freedom of speech – the cornerstone of the UK democracy. Sadly, I don’t think we can deliver that service in the current political climate”.
Mr Roberts added “With Downing Street announcing a £100 million ‘Get ready for Brexit’ advertising spend, and enquiries for potential General Election campaigns being received, we are aware that we are refusing some potentially lucrative contracts, but the Brexit issue is so divisive, we feel we owe a duty of care to our drivers and have to put their safety first. I have even been told that our insurers may not cover us if something was to happen to our advertising vehicles under these circumstances as it could possibly be classed as civil unrest and any claim rejected.”
A Gorilla Media Ad Van operation for Lobbying organisation 38-Degrees was even moved-on by the local Tory MP Guy Opperman in Hexham which was photographed by a member of the public featured in the local press the Hexham Courant under the headline ‘Hexham’s MP Guy Opperman challenges campaigners from 38 Degrees’ although it is believed that this was a friendly exchange of words.
“I’m confident our wide and varied both retail and business-to-business advertisers will keep our vehicle and our drivers busy” Mr Roberts concluded.