Can advertising bridge society’s political & cultural divides?

On Saturday 26th September, thousands of people pitched up in Trafalgar Square to listen to a talk by David Icke and to protest about a combination of; vaccines, track and trace, lockdown restrictions and 5G mobile networks. Whilst this event represents a position on the extreme end of those taken by Brits, its existence is emblematic of how fragmented our views are on a broad range of topics.

Photo by Jonathan Harrison on Unsplash

From Brexit (yawn) to climate change and the BBC, it feels like we’ve never been more divided and entrenched in our disparate opinions.

One approach used to try and find agreement in matters of conflict and negotiation is called ‘chunking up’. The idea is to start with your area of disagreement and work backwards, getting less specific until you reach a point of consensus, and then start your conversation from there.

So, whilst you might dispute whether Britain should be a member of the EU, you could find common ground around wanting a strong economy or being able to provide for the basic needs of UK citizens, and it seems that by and large, we do.

Chunking up, in many ways, is pure Byron Sharp. Most brands aren’t targeting small — easily categorizable — chunks of society with uniform political views. They need to reach out and attract vast swathes of people to buy their product. This means finding universal truths and insights that hold true across a broad spectrum of the public. Whether we’re talking politics or advertising, marketers have the tools to ‘chunk up’ across our current divides.

Our industry has a long tradition of producing campaigns that hold mass appeal, leaving commonly-understood cultural touchpoints (wassup!) and effectiveness awards in their wake, whether that be John Lewis’ Christmas ads, Tesco’s ‘Every Little Helps’ or This Girl Can.

Maybe then, the answer to rebuilding national unity is to brief an agency.