The focus of the Labour Party’s communication activity has now pivoted from defence against UKIP to attack on the old foe that is the Conservative Party.
The lines of attack are now familiar and will become more so as we move ever closer towards polling day in May next year.
What is new is that Labour have created a brand logo for their attack. Creating a singular visual point of consistency which encapsulates the values of an organisation and lodges itself into the minds of an audience is hardly a new practice, but it’s fairly unusual to create one for an opponent.
It seems like a smart move to me and it will be interesting to see if it’s something that lasts beyond conference season.
A new book on political marketing, with a focus on the USA, edited by Jennifer Lees-Marshment, Brian Conley and Kenneth Cosgrave has been released. It’s available to purchase here
The book first underlines the importance of marketing to almost every facet of politics before providing in depth analysis of practically every aspect, including: voter targeting, database management, social media practice, celebrity endorsement, fundraising, branding and advertising.
As well as codifying a vocabulary for discussing the discipline, the authors have also created a particularly useful matrix (featured above) which outlines all the political marketing activity that a campaign can and should undertake.
Many successful political operators have a good natural instinct for political marketing activity or through experience have picked up that many of the methods are crucial to success. But I wonder how many political campaigns have a singular marketing chief who has these tasks written into their job description.
If I was running a political campaign, the authors’ political marketing matrix would be the ongoing basis for my ‘to do’ list and the blueprint for structuring my organisation.
The Labour Party’s line of attack against UKIP during their conference in Doncaster is “UKIP: more Tory than the Tories”.
The aim of the communications is to remind people in Labour’s heartlands who have a deep and visceral aversion to the Conservative Party that a flirtation with UKIP is tantamount to getting into bed with Margaret Thatcher.
These ads are aimed squarely at the working class in the midlands and north who might be tickled by Farage’s brand of anti-elitism and pub populism.
I’m not a fan of the strap line – it just reads like it’s been written by a Labour spokesperson. It’s void of humanity and is not the language of everyday speech.
The strategy, however, is sound enough.
The quality and variation of the Yes! campaign’s campaigning materials, adverts and posters has been far superior to that of the Better Together campaign throughout the referendum period.
The Yes! campaign brief of ‘sell anger towards a Tory-led coalition and hope for the future of an independent Scotland’ is a more creatively fertile proposition than that of Better Together’s ‘sell the fear of break-up and the maintenance of the status quo’.
Nevertheless, it’s one thing to have a great brief and quite another to deliver against it as thoroughly as they have. If it was down to the campaigning materials alone, the Yes! campaign would be starting the victory party already.
The volume of campaigning material coming out of Scotland and beyond is absolutely huge.
Here’s a small selection highlighting a few of the approaches that the Better Together campaign have taken in their communications.
Whilst there are some solid bits in there, the No campaign have struggled to come up with an inspiring visual language or tone of voice that runs through their campaign.
Sorry mate, don’t mean to embarrass you, but…er… your strategy is showing
The Better Together campaign have released a referendum broadcast that tries to appeal to undecided female voters.
It features a mother talking to the camera about her concerns for an independent Scotland: the security of Scotland’s oil supply, funding for education, the way “there’s only so many hours in the day and there’s so much to weigh up”.
The script wreaks of inauthenticity – it lists every single Better Together line of attack without breath. It’s so obviously aimed at undecided female voters that it feels terribly awkward. If the average viewer’s initial reaction to seeing your comms is “ah, I can see what you’re doing there pal” rather than some level of emotional gut response, you’ve completely ballsed it up.
And the characterisation is fairly patronising – the lead woman is mainly concerned about household tasks and complains that it’s her husband who cares about politics. It’s this latter element that has led to something of a twitter storm using #PatronisingBTLady
H/T to @frances_ryan for sending