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Octopus TV Failure Awards’ Nominee – BREXIT SPECIAL: POLLS APART by Andrew Eborn

Updated: Jan 31, 2020

Octopus TV Failure Awards’ Nominee – BREXIT SPECIAL: POLLS APART by Andrew Eborn

In this weekly series renowned international lawyer, strategist, futurologist, producer, broadcaster and speaker Andrew Eborn, President of Octopus TV and Knot The Truth and Founder of the Octopus TV Failure Awards, shines a light on the products and services, brand extensions and campaigns that failed to take off and have as a result earned entry into The Octopus TV Failure Awards.

As Andrew points out “we always celebrate success whilst hiding the failures that led to that success. The Octopus TV Failure Awards finally give failure the attention it deserves. If necessity is the mother of invention then failure is the father of success”

“From failed products and services to campaigns and ads we would rather forget, we want to encourage organisations and brands to be better at learning from failures not just ignoring them and pretending they never happened.”

Andrew is in high demand as a presenter, magician and speaker around the world.

Thank you for all the new nominations for the Octopus TV Failure Awards. Keep them coming

Last week for The Octopus TV Failure Awards we applied 2020 vision to failures connected in some way with Decades, Centuries & Millenniums and the fact that we always celebrate a year early!


My piece on HOT DATES was particularly timely in the week that Burns Night and Chinese New Year fell on the same date, Saturday 25th January 2020.

London was alive with diverse celebrations of “Chinese Burns Night”.

I was not going to go out but they twisted my arm…..


Global events this week highlight the lessons that must be learned to avoid history repeating itself.

It was Robert Burns in his poem From Man was made to Mourn: A Dirge, 1785 who reminded us that “Man's inhumanity to man makes countless thousands mourn!”

27th January 2020 was the 75th Anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz, the German Nazi concentration and extermination camp.

We are bombarded with reports of so much death and destruction in the world that we risk becoming numb. Give horror a face, however, and reality strikes.

I visited Auschwitz shortly after Schindler's List was released.

Walking through the grounds of the Auschwitz-Birkenau Memorial and hearing the first-hand accounts was deeply moving.

The horror of Hitler’s “Final Solution” does not diminish with time.

It is estimated that 11 million people died in the Holocaust.

If we held 1 minute’s silence for each of the victims of the Holocaust we would be silent for 21 years.

It is a chilling reminder that we should not be bystanders to injustice.


This has also been a week of exits and change.

Both Terry Jones and Nicholas Parsons left us.

It is a measure of the man that Michael Palin used the whole of his acceptance speech for his Special Recognition Award at the National Television Awards to speak not about his own life but about the life of Terry Jones.

It was also good to see Terry Gilliam on the Graham Norton Show. Terry Gilliam explained that people would often be confused between Terry Jones and him. For the avoidance of doubt Terry Gilliam wore a T-shirt with the words “I’m Not Dead Yet”. Terry G described Terry J as “an extraordinary, wonderful human being”.

Always look on the bright side of Life!

The word “Legend” is over-used. Nicholas Parsons was, however, a broadcasting legend.

Nicholas Parsons was the dyslexic "unconventional child of conventional parents".

"You can't take yourself seriously. I learned that being a straight man. That's what I do on Just A Minute - laugh at myself and they make jokes at my expense. But that's what life's about, isn't it? Having fun."

I had the pleasure of working with Nicholas Parsons a number of times including on the English version of Naruhodo The World for Fuji TV. I was the magic “Trump Man” – no relation…


The Giant Impeachment continues to dominate the news.

As predicted, the use of misdirection is key to both the world of magic and life in the public eye. When the focus of negative attention it is now common practice to redirect attention to other matters.

The 1997 Political drama Wag The Dog with Robert De Niro and Dustin Hoffman looks more like a documentary than a work of fiction.

There is a crisis in the White House and to save the election they have to fake a war …

Hmmmm …..

I have already predicted that Teflon Trump will survive the trial, the actions of the Democrats will backfire and Trump will become even more powerful. A two-thirds majority of 67 votes in the 100-seat Senate is required to convict Trump. As Republicans have a majority of 53 to 47 in the Senate conviction is extremely unlikely.

Instead, the round the clock global coverage provides a perfect platform for the Presidential push in the lead up to the United States presidential election scheduled for Tuesday, November 3, 2020…

You heard it here first, folks, …watch this space

The F Word

Fear has also dominated the news this week - particularly around China.

As Edward Louis Bernays the father of PR recognised, fear is one of our most powerful emotions in “the engineering of consent.” For Dixie paper cups, Bernays founded the Committee for the Study and Promotion of the Sanitary Dispensing of Food and Drink and launched a campaign to scare people into thinking that only disposable cups were sanitary.

Mix fear with ignorance and the result is explosive.

UP UP & HUAWEI / China in your hand

In spite of pressure from the US amid concerns over security, The UK has decided to let Huawei continue to be used in its 5G networks but with restrictions. The Chinese firm will be prevented from supplying kit to "sensitive parts" of the network, known as the core.


Fear of the Coronavirus spreading faster than the Australian fires has also led to cancellation of flights to China and those returning to UK being held in quarantine for up to two weeks.

The death toll has risen to 170 and a confirmed case in Tibet means the Coronavirus has reached every region in mainland China.

Infections have also spread to at least 15 other countries.

It is always sensible to take precautions but we should never let fear cripple our lives. The threat should be put in perspective. While there is currently no specific cure or vaccine for the virus, many people who contract it have only mild symptoms and do recover from it.


This week has also seen more and more of my predictions come to fruition as MEGXIT and BREXIT - The Great British Break Off - continue to dominate the headlines

As recommended in my Ultimate Guide To Winning The Election, The Conservatives focussed their election campaign last year on one simple message “Get Brexit Done”.

Crippled by Brexaustion, voters up and down the country swallowed the much peddled mantra to end the dither and delay.

Whilst YouGov’s political research manager, Chris Curtis, described the election as “arguably the least predictable election in modern history” ,against all the odds, I successfully predicted that the Tories would secure the largest majority since the 80’s.

As a result of the victory Boris Johnson’s ‘Brexit bill’ passed smoothly through the House of Commons without issue. The Bill has now received Royal Assent and the EU (Withdrawal Agreement) Act 2020 is now in place.

Yesterday, 29th January, MEPs staged the final political act of the UK’s exit from the EU by voting on the withdrawal agreement.

As David Sassoli,, the president of the European parliament announced the result of the vote ( 621 in favour to 49 against with 13 abstentions) tearful MEPs stood to sing Auld Lang Syne

As predicted, tomorrow, 31st January we will leave the EU after 47 years of Membership.

We will then enter a transition period until 31st December 2020 during which we will remain part of the Customs Union and single market.

As UK Foreign Secretary, Dominic Raab, pointed out “signing the instrument of ratification of the withdrawal agreement is an historic moment that will legally bring an end to our membership of The European Union and delivers on the promise we made to the British people.”

“It is the start of a new chapter for an independent, sovereign Britain, looking forward to a decade of renewal and opportunity. Whether we are reducing trade barriers between nations, tackling climate change, or improving lives around the world, our vision of a truly global Britain will be a force for good.”

The UK is in an unprecedented position. No other Member has left the EU.


Every EU member state will have a vote and veto over the deal – which will make negotiations more complicated for the UK

In any event, next Christmas dinner will be different. There will be no Brussels!


As pointed out, this ramshackle yet riveting rollercoaster of a ride was perfectly predictable.

Whilst pollsters flubbed spectacularly, I predicted the Tory victory in 2015, the backfire of Theresa May’s decision to call a snap election in 2017, the twists and turns of Brexit, the unanimous decision of The Supreme Court that prorogation was “unlawful, void and of no effect”, the “Post Truth” /”Wag The Dog” era of Trump, the result of last year’s General Election and now the historic Great British Breakoff from the EU.

2020 vision

I am often asked how I can make such accurate predictions about major events, media coverage and election results whilst the pollsters fail time and time again leading to the several nominations for this week’s Octopus TV Failure Awards.


Whilst magicians are prevented from revealing their secrets – lessons can be learned.

As a Member of The Inner Magic Circle with Gold Star as well as a lawyer, strategist and futurologist, predictions and a deep understanding of human behaviour come with the territory.

So why do the pollsters fail so often?

As previously pointed out, the flaw lies in the fact that polls fail to take into account the reasons why people respond in a particular way to particular questions.

Often people may not admit to holding what might be perceived as an unpopular view.

Further, most people who do respond tend to represent extreme views. So often those in the middle – the vast majority - remain silent.

The fact is that human behaviour is predictable.

Psychological profile questionnaires will often include questions to ascertain if a person is telling the truth.


Every year we follow the same pattern with new hopes and dreams but without changing the way we do things.

Many of us claim to be open minded and yet merely hunt for evidence to support our prejudices - whether through the newspapers we read, the programmes we watch or the people we choose to listen to.

Change will only come if we take steps to make that change.

Albert Einstein is often credited with saying, “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, but expecting different results.”

One of the missions of my Octopus TV Failure Awards is to shine a light on our failures so we can avoid the same mistakes.

If necessity is the mother of invention then failure is the father of success.


We live in a Connected Age where data is the new currency.

The more we know about people the easier it is to understand them and not only to predict but to influence their behaviour.

It is often said that history repeats itself. That it certainly true not least because we fail to learn the lessons of the past – one of the reasons the various events of last week are especially poignant.


The knowledge and understanding of human behaviour – how to win friends and influence people – are vital weapons as we enter the negotiation stage for new trade deals.

The reality it is in everyone’s interests to conclude deals.

Whilst we will no longer be Members of the EU we remain keen to do business.

The UK has some of the greatest products and services in the world – not least in the creative industries where we punch way above our weight.

Creativity is woven into the DNA of the UK.

Portland Communications’ 2019 Soft Power 30 report placed the UK second in the world for overall cultural influence. We were first in 2018.

Brand Britain is our key to global success.

The creative industries are the fastest growing part of the UK economy.

They are defined by the UK Government as “those industries which have their origin in individual creativity, skill and talent and which have a potential for wealth and job creation through the generation and exploitation of intellectual property”.

The creative industries now contribute more than £100 billion to the UK economy.

Over the course of the BREXIT saga I have been speaking regularly with both Remainers and Brexiters.

In spite of the predictable name calling, the reality is that there is much common ground. The vast majority on both sides is unhappy with the status quo and want change.

The question was whether it would be better to negotiate that change from inside the EU or outside.

It was also clear that the EU would not give us an easy ride. Make it too easy and others will be tempted to follow suit - the domino effect.

So what is the secret?

Communication. Communication. Communication.

Several issues arise due to lack of communication. Problems occur when there are misunderstandings or false information spread.

Often perception and reality are at odds.

Where issues do arise people should be encouraged to question everything and try to resolve those issues directly between themselves, to explain their perception and to provide the opportunity to the other person to clarify any misunderstandings.

Any issues which arise should be addressed directly with the people concerned and clarification obtained recognising that spreading and/or repeating false statements and disinformation about others could lead to action and significant financial liability including under defamation laws.

Let’s try to clarify any misunderstanding and find an amicable resolution.

Time to finish that unfinished business!

Everyone deserves to be treated with respect.

People should be encouraged to speak out.

Silence speaks volumes and those who do nothing only serve to condone the behaviour.

Communication is key

I have often said that the more technical means we have to communicate the less we are able to do so.

We live in a connected world where we are always “on”.

How are you?


Why is being busy so important?

We should enjoy life rather than trying to find ways to kill time.

Technology has now consumed our lives.

It is sad to see how many people are engrossed in their screens rather than the person or the world in front of them.

How many people watch the world through a tiny screen on their phones rather than living the moment?

This has had a massively detrimental effect on people’s ability to express themselves directly without the aid of emojis or gifs


Communication is a two way street.

So often perception and reality are not aligned.

Perception is deception.

It is essential that what you want to communicate is clear to the person you hope to communicate with.

If a 10am meeting is being moved forward an hour do you turn up at 9am or 11am …or not at all?

Language is about communication. Understanding the other person’s perception and speaking their language will facilitate harmony and enable agreement.

The Change Will Do You Good

Pollsters will continue to fail until an understanding of human nature is built into their surveys.

AI will assist – watch this space

We have been through one of the most divisive periods in our lives.

Friendships have been destroyed over issue of whether we should be IN or OUT. The same in Scotland.

Wounds run deep.

We are by our very nature tribal.

Passion is to be applauded but where that passion boils over to hatred and violence it should be deplored.

We live in a brilliantly diverse world – we should now focus our energies on making this a United Kingdom.

Let’s make Britain Great, again!


So, whilst our relationship with the EU has changed we are nevertheless in a fantastic position to ensure that the relationship is even stronger based on mutual understanding and respect.

Let’s celebrate and embrace our differences!

Change how you perceive the world and your world will change.

Change will only come if we take steps to make that change.

Put everything in perspective.

Question Everything.

Build bridges not walls.

Recognise that communication is key and that even the threat of a breakdown of communication can be devastating.


As we enter this thrilling new chapter let’s celebrate our diversity.

The world is like a haggis made of all sorts – some of which are unmentionable...and to some unpalatable!

The haggis has been banned in the US since 1971. The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) has long objected to one of the key ingredients in haggis – sheep's lung....

The haggis is nevertheless a powerful symbol of National pride, identity and eccentricity. Not to everyone’s taste but certainly what everyone will talk about.

As Oscar Wilde pointed out “The only thing worse than being talked about, is not being talked about.”

Let’s keep the conversation burning..

.. and with that I’ll leave the final word to Robert Burns ….

Address To a Haggis- Robert Burns 1786

Fair fa' your honest, sonsie face, Great chieftain o' the pudding-race! Aboon them a' ye tak your place, Painch, tripe, or thairm : Weel are ye wordy o'a grace As lang's my arm.

The groaning trencher there ye fill, Your hurdies like a distant hill, Your pin wad help to mend a mill In time o'need, While thro' your pores the dews distil Like amber bead.

His knife see rustic Labour dight, An' cut you up wi' ready sleight, Trenching your gushing entrails bright, Like ony ditch; And then, O what a glorious sight, Warm-reekin', rich!

Then, horn for horn, they stretch an' strive: Deil tak the hindmost! on they drive, Till a' their weel-swall'd kytes belyve Are bent like drums; Then auld Guidman, maist like to rive, Bethankit! hums.

Is there that owre his French ragout Or olio that wad staw a sow, Or fricassee wad make her spew Wi' perfect sconner, Looks down wi' sneering, scornfu' view On sic a dinner?

Poor devil! see him owre his trash, As feckless as wither'd rash, His spindle shank, a guid whip-lash; His nieve a nit; Thro' bloody flood or field to dash, O how unfit!

But mark the Rustic, haggis-fed, The trembling earth resounds his tread. Clap in his walie nieve a blade, He'll mak it whissle; An' legs an' arms, an' heads will sned, Like taps o' thrissle.

Ye Pow'rs, wha mak mankind your care, And dish them out their bill o' fare, Auld Scotland wants nae skinking ware That jaups in luggies; But, if ye wish her gratefu' prayer Gie her a haggis!

Follow Andrew on Twitter @AndrewEborn @OctopusTV

Send your nominations now

From failed products and services to campaigns and ads we would rather forget, we want to encourage organisations and brands to be better at learning from failures not just ignoring them and pretending they never happened.

Send your nominations with full description and images to

In addition to international recognition and glittering prizes the winners will be featured in The Museum of Failure and receive the much valued TOFA.

We shall provide a regular update including through the Andrew Eborn weekly column

Andrew Eborn is a lawyer, strategic business adviser, producer, writer, presenter, magician and speaker. Andrew has specialised in international licensing and global rights’ management for several years and has been actively involved with the negotiation, acquisition and international exploitation of various major licences enabling companies to maximise the return on their rights as well as assisting with the strategic development of their international businesses.

Andrew Eborn is now working with several businesses across the IP value chain including the creation and licensing of content in all media from recording, publishing, distribution, supply of talent, management, promotion, immersive technology and holograms.

Businesses include:

Octopus TV Ltd ( award winning company revolutionising the way content is created and distributed) @octopustv

Knot The Truth Ltd ( KTT) with RJ Gibb, son of Robin Gibb of the Bee Gees, launched in Cannes. KTT already has a strong line up of programmes, tv, film and music productions, live events, theatrical shows and holographic experiences.

Andrew Eborn is a columnist, broadcaster and regular presenter and speaker around the world

Photographer: Corrado Amitrano

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