Just to be clear, our business is products, not politics. We are here to shout about brand innovation, not Boris’s reinvention.
At Product of the Year, we respect that opinions on something so vital will be passionate and often polarised and we admire the strength of feeling from both camps on the Brexit debate.
Many of those we work with sit on different sides of the EU fence. For example, Unilever’s chief executive Paul Polman, has come out against Brexit, saying in a letter to 100,000 UK employees and pensioners of the company that it would be ‘negatively impacted’ if the UK chose to leave the EU. While John Mills, chairman of the JML Group, the company behind our 2015 winner Go Chef eight-in-one cooker, says the UK should grab the opportunity to leave the EU, which he called ‘a very expensive club’.
Many of those who drive the fast moving consumer goods industry are equally divided on the effect a Brexit would have on brands. There is the feeling that innovation could suffer if research and development funding from Europe evaporates and hastily erected trade barriers make multinational cooperation more cumbersome.
Others favour the ‘change is good’ viewpoint, arguing that a break from Europe would be a shot in the arm for ‘Brand Britain’, making us stand out from the Euro crowd. Opinions are as vocal as they are varied, and the result when it lands around breakfast time on Friday, will not make those divisions suddenly disappear.
But at Product of the Year, we are here to bring brands together. We have the same mission as our Product of the Year colleagues in France, where the awards started, and the 13 other EU member countries where our awards also operate. Whether Britain is still in the EU or not, our aim remains the same: To celebrate the brilliant innovations that are in their own ways also influencing the everyday lives of ordinary people.
Like everyone else, we are eager to see what the future holds, but we are confident that – Brexit or not – Britain will remain a world beater.