An advertising campaign from the Normandy government urging British businesses to flee across the Channel to escape Brexit has been banned by Transport for London because it may cause “public controversy or sensitivity”.
The adverts urging entrepreneurs worried about the UK’s departure from the EU to “vote with their feet” will run in national newspapers, including the Guardian, this week. But they will not be carried on public transport in the capital after TfLsaid the ads “did not fully comply” with its advertising guidelines.
The campaign for the Normandy Development Agency features a mock-up of a fictional newspaper, The Normandy Times, with the headline: “British business owners can now vote with their feet and leave post-Brexit fears behind.”
“If you didn’t vote for Brexit or it’s not right for your business, why not vote with your feet and open an office, or settle a production unit, in Normandy,” it says. The advert also carries a mock classified ad saying: “Hot entrepreneur wanted … Someone allergic to post-Brexit tariffs, legislation and restrictions preferred.”
TfL said the ads were rejected under a clause that related to adverts that may contain “images or messages which relate to matters of public controversy or sensitivity”.
Although the ban will impede the agency’s ability to reach some London commuters, it is also sending a bus wrapped with the “hot entrepreneur” ad on a tour of Bristol, Birmingham, Manchester, Cambridge and London later this month.
The French push comes at a sensitive time, as British companies worry about how the decision to leave the EU will affect them. Paris is among the European capitals trying to lure businesses away in the “Brexit relocation” sector. In 2016, Defacto, which manages Paris’s La Défense business district, ran a similar campaign with the message: “Tired of the fog? Try the Frogs!”
Hervé Morin, who heads the Normandy regional council, said it was sorry TfL had blocked the ads. The region is offering tax breaks and help accessing grants of up to €100,000 (£89,000) to British companies that decamp to France. “We are very keen to get across our invitation to British entrepreneurs who wish to either set up or remain in the eurozone,” said Morin.