Advertising and the General Election 2010

After the recent announcement of the upcoming and long overdue General Election on 6th May, the next month will be full of campaign spots hitting our TV’s, broadcasts on radio’s and even politicians knocking on our doors but what can we expect from the advertisements?

So far, in the run-up to this election, the advertisements we’ve seen have been fairly amateur and don’t seem to reflect the work of the agencies the main parties have recruited the services of. For example, during the final weeks of ‘The X Factor’ we we’re treated to these poor Photoshop posters popping-up online and in major cities. As you can see from the adverts below, they seem to be of a fairly week standard and, I would argue, that they aren’t effective campaign materials for what is an extremely important election.

Campaign magazine voted the two advertisements above as among the worst of 2009 [1]. Contrastingly, a spokesperson from the Labour party stated that “We did this two weeks ago and this shows once again how Labour is leading the way in digital campaigning and the Tories are left scrabbling around playing catch up” [2].

Despite this, Labour were actually two weeks behind the Conservative party in releasing an app for the iPhone. In my previous blog [3], I run through the applications of the main political groups and detail that Labours wasn’t as professional as the Conservative’s. Below are the release dates of the five apps I reviewed:

  1. 1st March – UKIP
  2. 27th February – Conservative
  3. 12th March – Labour
  4. 11th March – Liberal Democrats
  5. 12th April – Green Party

Over the past few months, I would argue that the standard of professionalism and creativity seen in political party advertisements have taken a dive and been reduced to childish satire and poor Photoshop skills. Many people perceive politics as being ‘boring’ or ‘stifling’ which is why it is extremely important to make political campaigns anything but this by enhancing creativity and imagination in an entertaining and informative manner.

I would love to see more ambient advertising campaigns in use as part of political campaigning to involve the public more and grab their attention immediately. For example, if the Conservative party wanted to focus on the banking crisis which Labour where in power during the process of, having actors run around major cities such as London dressed in suits, wearing plastic ‘Gordon Brown’ masks and carrying swag bags would be an effective way to get the message across. Moreover, this campaign could spill over into the news and onto the web with the public photographing and filming the event.

On the other hand, if Labour wanted to comment on the Conservatives and their plan to reinstate fox hunting, a similar approach could be taken of someone dressed as David Cameron chasing another actor dressed as a fox through cities around the country. These are only quick ideas that me, a puny undergraduate student has come up with yet I would expect them to be far more engaging than the plane, same-old advertisements that are wheeled out week after week; please see two examples from the Labour party below which seem to sum up this point:

Furthermore, I found this political message on Labour’s official Youtube channel. Let me know in the comments below what you think but I find the use of the terms “Asda Mums” and “Asda families” incredibly patronising and demeaning:

On the other hand, their recent political broadcast, featuring Eddie Izzard, is much more on the right lines. The casual approach which utilises information in a simple manner isn’t overbearing, forceful or frequent which is even addressed by Izzard in the opening of the broadcast. The use of his individual style of humour is entertaining but never devolves into a standup routine. You can watch the video below if you didn’t catch it on BBC2 earlier tonight:

Keep your eyes peeled over the next month for new advertisements from the major political parties; here’s hoping they start using more creativity ideas.





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