Post-Brexit, Britain needs to build new trading relationships with major economies around the world.

While ‘free trade’ is a popular concept with UK audiences, the specifics of any new deal can be controversial, and fears of lower standards or damage to UK industries could derail negotiations.

The Department for International Trade engaged MHP Mischief to help it design a public engagement strategy, which would secure broad support for new trade deals.

Rules of

in Action

Rule Two

Our audience insights led us to recommend a programme rooted in three storytelling principles:

  • Focus on the opportunities for producers, rather than the benefits for consumers
  • Make trade tangible to overcome the popular misconception that “Britain doesn’t make anything anymore”
  • Link trade to other strategic goals, including Net Zero and social justice


We wrote a detailed strategic plan and messaging framework, which informed all communications work to support trade negotiations with Japan, Australia, New Zealand and Britain’s application to join the Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP).


In February 2022, the DIT’s independent public attitude research found that:

  • Overall support for establishing Free Trade Agreements with countries outside the EU reached 70% – the highest since the survey began
  • Support for a Free Trade Agreement with the US had jumped in to 57% (from 49% the previous year)
  • Support for the UK to join the CPTPP has risen to nearly two thirds (to 63% from 51% last year)
  • Perceptions around the impact on jobs of increased free trade improved – around half of respondents believed more free trade would lead to more jobs in the UK overall
  • There was a significant reduction in the proportion who expect lower quality goods and services as a result of increased free trade