Monthly Archives: November 2009

My 5 minutes

Total Politics magazine very kindly asked me to feature in their ‘blogger profile’ section of this month’s edition.  You can read my answers to their question with greater clarity here.  Needless to say, I’ve left issues of the magazine (with the correct page folded at the corner) in every toilet cubicle in the office.

The influence of social media in elections

There’s a fantastic article about the influence of social media on elections on Under Strict Embargo.  In it, he disputes Weber Shandwick’s (leading PR agency) assertion that social media will have minimal impact at the next general election. 

Weber Shandwick hold this opinion on account of a consumer survey which found that only 5% of voters would be influenced by things they have seen on social media sites, whilst 59% site national /regional print and broadcast media.

As Daljit rightly points out, traditional media doesn’t sit in a silo from social media.  Social media can and does have a profound impact on the news agenda.  Recent examples of social media campaigns that have picked up significant coverage in the mainstream media include the ‘We love the NHS’ campaign, the Damian McBride affair and the Cambourne / Jedward advert.

I’d be willing to bet that in the run-up to pollling day there will be many more bits of content, seeded on social media, that will end up having a significant impact on the narrative of this election.

Countdown to a Conservative Government?

The Conservative Party have released a widget that counts down the days, hours, minutes and seconds until the next general election. I imagine this was produced in the hope that it will be hosted by organisers and influencers in order to serve as a constant reminder to activists about the proximity of polling day and the need for their time and effort on the door step.

I’m not sure how motivating it is as a piece of commincation. A widget that published ‘the line’ of the day, a campaigning tip or an inspiration message would do the job in a more compelling and interesting way.

Labour celebrating the past to win the future?

There’s rumours circulating that the above film ‘Against the odds’ could be used as a party political broadcast in the next election.  Sentimentality has been used to great effect recently by brands like Hovis, Sainsbury’s and Heinz, so The Labour Party would be in the company of some of the nations most successful marketeers if it did so.

Whether it’s choosing the supermarket where you buy the beans to go on your toast, or electing a government, getting people to change their mind from their default position is incredibly difficult to do.  Reminding people of the decisions they have made in the past can be a very effective method of getting them to do the same thing in the future.

Labour, in the above spot, is playing to one of the strengths that an incumbent party has – defense of the status quo – whilst at the same time presenting itself as a radical, forward-facing organisation.  Very smart.

You won’t be laughing if they win

Cameron Osborne John Edward Jedward

The Labour Party have released a fantastic new piece of attack advertising.

David Cameron announced earlier this week that John and Edward are his favourites to win X-Factor.  The Labour Party have lept on this and labelled Cameron and Osborne ‘the Jedward of politics’ – hilarious to watch, but all spin and no substance.

Tying Cameron and Osborne to the love-to-hate X-Factor duo is a very clever piece of populist political communication.  The headline ‘you won’t be laughing if they win’ is inspired and, like every good piece of attack advertising, it taps into a worry which many people (subconsciously or otherwise) already have.

This is the first piece of Labour Party advertising I’ve seen in recent times that has the genuine potential to go viral.  Top marks.

Heather Graham stars in healthcare spot

What a massively gratuitous use of a celebrity in this ad.  A terrible, cheap looking advert.  Celebrity advertising, political or otherwise, is only usually effective when brand values overlap to create a mutually beneficial relationship that has at least an element of consumer credibility.  I can just imagine the guy selling the script using the fact that she was in Scrubs as a justification for her casting…

Party Political Pre-roll

Pre-rolled

Pre-rolled

Catherine Shannon from Total Politics has brought to my attention that Tremor Media are jumping on Spotify’s bandwagon and trying to capitalise on political parties’ inability to broadcast on TV or radio by offering up pre-roll activity (the adverts you get before watching videos on sites like 4oD and The Sun).

Tremor Media’s UK Managing Director Adrian Lacey said:

“Until now, the ban on political broadcast advertising has limited parties to print, ambient and outdoor media, which are un-engaging and easy to ignore compared to online video advertising. A far more effective way to engage voters is through pre or post-roll online advertising, where a short video ad is played before, during or after desirable video content.”

Apologies about the ‘pre-rolled’ gag.  That was a new low.