By Briggy Anderson

The United Kingdom has become a country riven by differences over the past five years – leaving brands trying to reach out to a fragmented audience. But retail marketing and public relations has to get around these self-imposed divisions.

People are defining themselves as Leavers and Remainers, Nationalists and Unionists, vegans and omnivores, Millennials and Baby Boomers … a seemingly endless list of what sets us apart from each other.

As Stuart Knapman, managing director and partner at insights and research agency The Sound, told public relations and marketing experts at our latest Beattie Breakfast last month: “It’s a perfect storm for brands.

“On the one hand, you have this climate of fragmentation where we have all these competing visions of where we want Britain to be, where innocent messages can get seized upon and perceived in very different ways by different people.

“But while Britain is increasingly chaotic, brands are increasingly looking for clarity and asking questions such as ‘who are we?’ and ‘what do we stand for?’.

“It’s quite a difficult time for brands but we believe within that chaos lies opportunities.”

In its research, The Sound highlighted how 56 per cent of the UK population consider themselves to be the “have nots”, rising to 77 per cent in the North East. This shows the obstacle businesses have to get over before they can prise the pennies from our pockets.

Stuart wisely identified five ways for brands to use retail PR and marketing to connect with their audiences post-Brexit:

  • Burst your bubble
  • See things through a different lens
  • Find a common enemy
  • Restate your purpose
  • Find a new togetherness

Against this background of a fragmentation, we have used our expertise in delivering first-class health marketing and retail PR to our clients’ advantage.

Finding a common enemy can be central to the creation of health campaigns to not only drive sales but to win hearts and minds. 

Only Health has been running the highly successful #TrueAge campaign for Seven Seas, which used age prejudice as a common enemy.

Once we’d found our common enemy, we tried seeing through a different lens. We wanted to understand what was holding Brits back from living their true age. Was it really “ageism”?

In partnership with Dr Becky Spellman, we created a social experiment to test the hypothesis. A fake fashion shop was created where the clothes were arranged by age rather than size.

A group of women were invited in to shop and share their experience. Here is what happened:


The campaign was a massive success, driven by social media shares and accompanied by quality hits in the mainstream media. Along the way, our #TrueAge campaign has picked up nominations for our work at the PR Moment Awards and the PRCA Digital Awards.

Its success exposes an irony: We possess the best, most integrated methods of communication and yet are using it as a society to drive each other away.

Perhaps, humanity could learn from marketers that barriers can be surmounted just as easily as they are erected, with just a little thought for others.

We know a lot about health. To speak to the health marketing experts, call us on 0800 612 9890.