Monthly Archives: March 2009

Organising in government

Lots of candidates that are elected on a wave of popularity pledge to bring their campaigning and organising frame of mind into government.  Here is the Democrats and Team Obama attempting to fulfill that ambition.  Not a great ad, but the sentiment of “we still need all ya’ll who helped get me elected” is just about carried through.  The triumphant emphasis every time the word “President” is used is probably a bit much, but after 8 years of Opposition, I’ll forgive them that one.

It’s worth mentioning that getting lots of people to sign up to your agenda for government is democratic and ‘grass roots’ to an extent.  But the challenge comes when you have to deal with a situation where a significant portion / majority of the public and your supporters disagree with the direction you’re trying to set and want to halt or change it.

Here is a better advert from Americans United for Change containing similar subject matter:

There’s no emphasis on grass roots activism, but it’s a much more compelling stand-alone piece of communication.  It would be a REALLY interesting experiment if you could isolate the two campaigns mentioned in this post in different areas of the country.  You could measure which approach – low budget TV ad with a small media spend but heavy organising activity v.s expensive animated TV ad and zero campaigning on the ground – is more effective in shaping peoples opinion.

Aggressive Political Advertising in India


I just came across this piece of political advertising that has been put out by the BJP in India, in the wake of their recent terrorist attacks.  The press ad is trying to blame the attacks on the incumbent government and is suggesting that the BJP and their leader Shri L K Advani would be tougher on terrorism if elected later this year.

In the wake of a national disaster it is never wise for an opposition party to try and score political points too soon or too boldly, as the chances of coming across as insensitive and opportunistic are extremely high.  The above advert, in it’s use of blood and bullet related imagery is far too aggressive.  Whether or not the government could be percieved to be at fault for making the country less secure, such a graphic and accusatory piece of advertising will almost certainly lose more support than it could ever hope to gain.

Gordon Needs to ‘Get Some Nuts’



In the recent ‘Get Some Nuts’ campaign for Snickers, featuring Mr T, some direct response mobile advertising was conducted.  In one text message, they asked the target audience (16-24 male) ‘Who needs to get some nuts?’.  In order to visually represent the keywords used in the responses they amplified the size of the lettering depending on how many people replied using a given word… who says young people aren’t political?


Whilst the above is slightly childish, there is a genuine and interesting advertising context to it. I had a presentation this morning from mobile network and media owner Blyk.  They are a pay-as-you-go mobile network who give £15 free credit per month to their customers in exchange for personal profile information (likes, dislikes, activities, interests etc…) and consent for the receipt of 6 text messages from relevant advertisers per day.  The profile information allows advertisers to target consumers by age, location, interest, occupation, propensity to respond to advertising and many other metrics. 


Whilst text messaging on polling day has been used in the past, Blyk offers the opportunity of highly targeted, relatively creatively rich, interactive and relevant political advertising.  At the moment Blyk is only available for the hard-to-reach demographic of 18-24 year olds; however, they and other mobile networks will soon be rolling out across a wider range of the population.  This media platform seems like a no-brainer for political strategists at the next election.

Clean Coal Air Freshener

At ‘The Age of Stupid’ event I attended last week, Ed Miliband was proposing ‘clean coal’ as a significant part of the solution to climate change.  The debate around ‘clean coal’ is relatively muted in the UK but it is raging in the USA;  here’s the latest spot from Reality Coalition.  It’s really well done, very funny and is effective in positioning ‘clean coal’ enthusiasts as morons.

At no risk of being original

The Australian Labor Party have released this attack spot on the Liberal National Party Leader Lawrence Springborg.  It’s not going to bring a tear to the eye or boil your blood, but it does make you question the sense of the bloke under examination.  I suppose in that respect this advert (and others of their sort) is succesful.

That having been said I’m always slightly underwhelmed by political adverts that take snippets of a speech out of one context and stick it another.  This isn’t the first, it’s not the best and it won’t be the last.

G20 – Be Heard



The Labour Party have launched a new campaign around the G20 called ‘G20 – Be heard’.  When the Labour Party uses the fact they are in government during big global events it must go down really well with membership; what’s the point of your party being in government if you don’t get to input into the most important political events?  How happy other governments would be if they knew that the G20 was being billed as a meeting of the Labour Party leader and President Obama is another matter…


The headline slightly overplays the ‘Obama is God’ message, the title copy of ‘If I could say one thing’ reads like an advert for an Alpha course…


Labour Still Isn’t Working


When unemployment reached a psychologically significant figure, this poster was always going to updated and wheeled out again.  I thought it would be user generated rather than centrally produced ( I understand Conservative HQ have comissioned this execution).  The political and economic circumstances the poster has been reproduced in are very different and media sites across Britain have not been commandeered to broadcast it to the nation, so in that respect this poster will have a comparatively (and actually) minimal effect.

Whilst I doubt anyone in the Conservative Party intended this execution in any way to pretend to the crown of the original, a pastiche or second running of something great rarely lives up to the mark and that is certainly the case here.

A Manifesto In Every Corner of Europe

The Party of European Socialism has launched its Europe-wide election campaign.  One element of the campaign comprises of a photo competition that challenges supporters to take photos of themselves with ‘the manifesto cube’ (downloadable in every EU language from the campaign website) in front of a local landmark or with a local personality.

Here are some UK entries to the competition:

PES Cube


PES Cube Jim Fitzpatrick MP

It’s a really fun, innovative and engaging way to launch a manifesto that enables supporters in a pan-European campaign to localise and personalise the campaign. 

This is a brilliant social media campaign.  By supporters sharing photos on their blog / facebook friends and potential supporters will see it, as well as other supporters who they have never met and live far away across borders; this creates a feeling of a united, international movement that will inspire activists to do more and potential supporters to join in.

The Age of Stupid Premier

not stupid

I just attended The Age of Stupid premier at Shepherds Bush Vue.  There was, as promised, a satellite link up to Leicester Square, a few speakers before and after the film and a general spirit of activism (mixed in with a fair dosage of depression) from the audience.

The event was unashamedly political, featuring the film’s Director apologising on behalf of London to Ken Livingston for electing Boris Johnson before hounding Ed Miliband and declaring a campaign objective to oust the Labour Government if a new coal fired power station is allowed to go ahead in Kent.

It’s definitely worth seeing and has created / joined a campaign that will doubtless be featured on these pages regularly in the run up to the UN Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen in December 2009.

Conservative Party Logo Maker


Bosworth Conservative Future blogger built a ‘logo creator’ to enable party faithful to tailor the logo for local branches, campaigns etc… However it was quickly picked up by the Labour online community and the piss-taking began.  It’s not like people couldn’t mock up piss-taking Tory logos before, this just made it so much easier.

The person who built has taken it down but someone in the Labour blogosphere has quickly reinstated it.  Some young Tory from Bosworth has learnt a hard lesson fast: political advertising can blow up in your face, even when you have the best intentions.