One aimed at the then-Ukip leader displayed an image of him in a post-coital pose with the heading: “DON’T WAKE UP TO SOMETHING YOU’LL REGRET”.
Although rather disturbing, the Independent’s editor-at-large, Amol Rajan, deemed it “brilliant” and said lightheartedly it “may have kept Britain in Europe”.
The revelations of Cameron’s stance appear in a new book by Philip Webster, former political editor of The Times, in his book, Inside Story.
As reported by The Times, Craig Oliver, Cameron’s chief spin doctor, decided the poster was “too toxic”.
The PM’s camp was convinced the economic consequences of leaving the EU would be more important to voters than immigration, which in hindsight was a massive mis-judgement of the public mood.
A Remain camp source said: “This was the crime. We had nothing to say. Campaigns have to be fluid and adapt and this one had nothing on immigration and the country clearly felt like ‘they’ were not listening.”
Another poster showed a scruffy Boris Johnson walking towards Downing Street with the caption: “Be careful what you wish for.”
The companies behind the ads, Saatchi & Saatchi and M&C Saatchi, have previously released other posters that didn’t make the cut.
Moray MacLennan, worldwide chief executive of M&C Saatchi, told Campaign: “We never normally release work that we produced on behalf of a client that hasn’t run.
“But this time is different. We are still emotionally engaged, the issue is – and will remain – of vital importance and it might help to air some of these ideas.”
Speaking to The Guardian, he added: “We said don’t try to cower people into submission – encourage them to see the positives. We came up with a strategy based around ‘Don’t leave it, lead it’, but they didn’t run it.
“At no point did we deal with the senior politicians. Instead we were dealing with a cross-party committee and it was desperately frustrating. It was a structure doomed to failure.”