UK government preparing ‘shock and awe’ Brexit media campaign

LONDON — The U.K. will use “shock and awe” tactics based on behavioral science to spur businesses and the public to prepare for the end of the Brexit transition period.

The term, more often used to describe a military strategy of overwhelming force and closely associated with the Iraq war, is contained in a document setting out the government’s communications plan.

A massive information campaign is set to warn the public about the “consequences of not taking action,” before moving to a new phase focusing on avoiding losses as a result of the post-Brexit disruption.

The plan forms part of a £4.5 million advertising deal the government has struck with media agency MullenLowe London, which has also been working on communications around the coronavirus pandemic. The contract was found on the Tussell government procurement database.

Britain is set to leave the transition period on December 31, even if it fails to strike a trade deal with Brussels. Either way, there is expected to be new administration and checks on cross-border trade next year, as well as action needed by EU nationals in Britain, British nationals on the Continent and other groups in order to avoid disruption.

“The Transition Campaign is the most important government campaign this year,” says a tender document. It says the advertising blitz will begin in July and could stretch as far as May 2022.

Internal government data from October showed 61 percent of businesses had not even looked for information on how to prepare for a no-deal scenario.

The current plan is to split the publicity across four “bursts.” Between July and August there will be a drive to “nudge” or “shove” people to take action by warning of the “consequences and opportunity” ahead,

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