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What This Advertising Chief’s Anti-Brexit Campaign Would Have Looked Like

October 19, 2016, 12:00 AM UTC

As both a Brit and an ad woman, Tamara Ingram has strong opinions on what the U.K. could have done to prevent Brexit.

After the U.K. announced the results of the June referendum on whether or not to stay in the EU, much of the blame shifted to the poor communication on the part of the “Remain” camp. (Indeed, after the negative vote, Google trends show that British citizens scrambled to search: “What is the EU”?)

Speaking at the 2016 Fortune Most Powerful Women Summit in Laguna Niguel, Calif. on Tuesday afternoon, the J. Walter Thompson CEO shared her frustration that “no one sold the benefits” of being in the union, and that not enough leaders highlighted “what it means to be connected in the world.”

Listen to Tamara Ingram’s full discussion in our episode of the MPW OnStage podcast:

Were it up to her—British-born Ingram had relocated to the U.S. four years prior—the agency chief said she would have highlighted a few major pros of staying within the EU: 1) extraordinary immigration, 2) fantastic medicine, 3) wonderful arts, and 4) economic growth.



“I think it was a shameful campaign,” she told the Fortune MPW audience. “I’m deadly ashamed every day of the politics and the populism we live in.”

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Ingram of all people would know how to get a message across during tumultuous times. The former chief client team officer at JWT parent WPP (WPPGY) took on the top job in March of this year after the agency’s then-CEO Gustavo Martinez resigned, following a scandalous lawsuit from a former employee accusing him of racist and sexist behavior.

Ingram was in her new office an hour after the hiring announcement was made. She held a town hall meeting two hours after that, seeking to “give people a sense of security, continuity, stability and hunger,” she recalled. “These are moments of opportunity, because the world only expects bad things.”