Customers ordering a drink at any JD Wetherspoon in the UK will now get a chaser of propaganda as well, as the chain has distributed 200,000 beer mats arguing for a Brexit in the run-up to the 23 June referendum.
The mats take aim at International Monetary Fund Managing Director Christine Lagarde, who supports Britain remaining in the European Union, by comparing the governance of the IMF with that of FIFA, world soccer’s embattled governing body. They’re signed by Wetherspoon’s pro-Brexit founder and chairman Tim Martin (pictured), and will be available in more than 920 pubs across the UK.
"Why should we trust the IMF?" the mats read, adding, in reference to Lagarde, "Did anyone elect you?" An IMF representative didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.
Martin is one of the most vocal business leaders backing the UK to leave the European Union, calling the EU "fundamentally undemocratic" and accusing UK Prime Minister David Cameron and Chancellor George Osborne of using "ludicrous scare tactics" to convince Britons to vote to remain. Among those lining up alongside Martin are former HSBC Holdings chief Michael Geoghegan, while executives at Guinness maker Diageo and Ryanair have called for Britain to stay.
"This is a very smart awareness-raising publicity stunt," Mark Borkowski, a London public-relations strategist, said by e-mail. "However, a decision made over a pint rarely materialises in the cold light of the day."
Martin, who founded the pub chain known for its low prices in 1979, isn’t the only British business leader engaging in marketing stunts to sway public opinion. Ryanair Chief Executive Officer Michael O’Leary is spending €25,000 on an advertising drive calling on Britons to stay in the 28-nation bloc. The campaign will see Europe’s biggest discount airline add vast pro-EU stickers to some of its aircraft.
The Vote Leave campaign, backed by Boris Johnson, has also used a projector to shine its logo and slogan on the Angel of the North sculpture, one of Britain’s most famous artworks, raising the ire of its creator, Antony Gormley.
News by Bloomberg, edited by Hospitality Ireland