This election has been unlike any other. Called in haste at the end of October, whilst it didn’t exactly take us by surprise given Parliament’s deadlock over Brexit, it did mean that the usual election processes had to be re-considered.
With all the noise at the start of the campaign being about Brexit and the window to influence party manifestos minimal, we decided to not put together our own manifesto and instead focus on trying to cut through the political noise with our key campaign message: that business as usual isn’t working. We chose this messaging because we could see that amongst all the talk about the state of the NHS, free fibreoptic broadband and, of course, Brexit there was next to nothing said about how we must change how we do business. If we’re to deal with the climate emergency, widening social divisions and an economy which is just not working for too many people then we must look at the role of business and its role in solving and creating these problems. You can read more about why we went with this messaging in this blog.
On 28 November we hired an ad-van emblazoned with our campaign message which drove past the centres of economic and political power. Starting at the London Stock Exchange, city workers on their way to work saw our bold poster based on the iconic Saatchi & Saatchi image from the 1979 General Election. The message was clear – the way we do business isn’t working. The majority of the 14 million people living in poverty in the UK are from working families and there are now more foodbanks in the country than branches of McDonalds. To end this injustice, we have to look to new models of business. In short, we need to look to social enterprises which have a proven record of paying fairly and employee representation.
The van continued on through the City of London before stopping off at social enterprise Bikeworks.
Outside the Treasury we were joined by economist of the moment, Grace Blakeley who lent her support to the campaign. You can see an interview with Grace here.
We also visited Jeremy Corbyn’s constituency in Islington where we met some of the team from the Big Issue and dropped off a letter at his office asking him to support social enterprise. We then headed up to Uxbridge to take our message to voters in Boris Johnson. You can see highlights of the van’s journey through following #FutureOfBusiness on Twitter.
A week later we were back on the streets, this time literally projecting our message onto key locations in the City of London from the offices of the FT to the Bank of England. Our guerrilla marketing light projection used a similar image to the ad, this time focusing on the climate emergency. With 100 companies responsible for 71% of all emissions there is a clear failure of business as usual to ensure we have a planet left to live on. Social enterprises are again leading the way in dealing with the climate crisis and we wanted to show this.
As well as the guerrilla marketing our members contacted their parliamentary candidates directly, asking them to support our movement if elected. In total 130 letters have been sent to candidates all across the country.
Social Enterprise Day
Social Enterprise Day this year fell on 21 November and we wrote to candidates to ask them to show their support for the day. In total 60 candidates from across political parties showed their support for our movement on social media.
Thank you to everyone who supported us this election. Regardless of who wins, we will work hard to push the message to the next government that the future of business is social enterprise.