Led By Donkeys

Led by Donkeys started off as a campaign against Brexit by four friends, including the former founder of The Syria Campaign, James Sadri. The group wanted to highlight the hypocrisy of politicians calling for the UK to leave the European Union, despite previous statements to the contrary. Taking past tweets or quotes from now pro-Brexit politicians, they began printing them on posters and then illegally papering them over existing billboards.

After their first action, the group contacted the Guardian journalist Marina Hyde who shared a photo of their work on Twitter, helping them to reach a wider audience. After a week of illicit pasting, Led by Donkeys set up a Crowdfunder to help them buy billboard adverts to publicise their work. People also began asking them to put up billboards where they lived. In total, Led by Donkeys raised more than £500,000, making their crowdfunder the biggest political campaign in UK history.

“We have this unifying thing where we do laugh at Gove and Cummings and Fox and Johnson and I hope that comes out through the project. And there is a political power in laughing at these people.”

Ben Stewart, Led By Donkeys

Over time, Led by Donkeys progressed beyond billboards to ploughing a message into a field, projecting onto the White Cliffs of Dover and the Houses of Parliament, and advertising in Brussels—the home of the EU. The EU’s Brexit coordinator tweeted of the Dover stunt: “Quite something to see the White Cliffs of Dover turn blue. But the European project is much more than a lifebuoy. It’s our rock on which we have to build our future, especially in turbulent times.”

Led by Donkeys’ campaign worked because it grabbed people’s attention, whether they walked past a billboard, saw photos on Twitter, or read about it in the media. The billboards were also humorous, something that many campaigns are afraid to attempt. On Facebook, close to 110,000 people have liked Led by Donkeys’ page while the group has 332,000 followers on Twitter. Led by Donkeys have won an award for their work, published a book, and continue to spotlight political hypocrisy in the UK.