Monthly Archives: November 2010

Cut, cut, cut!

A very well put together video that – whilst the vast majority are complaining about the extremity of the cuts – urges the government to go further.

Wave after wave of well-spoken-intelligent-looking-men explain to you the simple steps needed to get Britain back on the front foot – cut, cut, cut.  Every time you even think about saying “hang on a minute, what about…” another deeply serious spectacled professor is thrust to the fore and makes you feel like a total cretin.

The video uses the oldest of all advertising tricks: ruthless reductionism.  If you’re trying to sell a pack of crisps you could talk about the flavour, the crunch, the freshness, the size of the bag, the cheap price, the high quality, the names of famous people who eat them or the negative aspects of other crisp manufacturers.  But you don’t.  Because if you throw someone 5 balls they won’t catch any.

So this video, rightly, doesnt even try and deal with the myriad of factors that impact on the economy.  It has a single agenda which it seeks to promote above all others – tax reduction.

Hoisted by your own petard

I’ve just come across a great post from a Californian political activist about a very good anti-Whitman advert that ran in the recent mid-term elections:

“One reason I particularly liked it: the ad was a kind of political “deconstruction” of political advertising itself. It pointed out, implicitly, how deceptive political advertising really is. The “sound bites” used and repeated by Whitman were used by her because they had “worked” for Schwarzenegger. These words were supposed to operate like an incantatory spell, and the result of hearing these words, exactly as both Schwarzenegger and Whitman phrased them, was supposed to sway the voters who heard their message.

That technique, using carefully prepared slogans, repeated endlessly, does sway voters (just as it sells consumer goods). Politics has turned into advertising because advertising does “work.” And we all recognize the truth of this. In fact, a good deal of political coverage, nowadays, is about the ads, or about whether the candidates will have enough money to run their ads, and not about either policy or substance. Focus groups and polls tell the advertising professionals what will “motivate” the voters, and these scientifically prepared statements and slogans will then be repeated, and reiterated, and will become, defacto, what the campaign is all about.

Since we “make” the world we most immediately inhabit, basing our actions, largely, upon the words we use to guide us, this kind of political “discourse” will ultimately destroy all opportunity for genuine change. Brown’s ad, in a very real way, was an attempt to “break the spell.”

Two World’s

Woolas kicked out of parliament for election leaflet

The former immigration minister Phil Woolas was ejected from parliament yesterday after two high court judges ruled that he lied about his Liberal Democrat opponent during the general election. 

The judgment is the first of its kind in Britain for 99 years and is likely to make campaign managers in future elections think a little bit more carefully about the content of their promotional materials.

Woolas, who won the seat by just over 100 votes, is going to appeal the judgment on the basis of freedom of political speech.  In the USA such freedom of political speech is enshrined in law, however, in the UK the issue is much less clear.

Ten freakiest political ads from US mid-terms

Adweek have compiled a list of the ten freakiest campaign ads from the US mid-term elections.  I’ve featured most of them on here before, but the ad that grabbed Adweek’s top spot managed to evade me until now.

It was created by a Democratic campaign group with intention of discrediting Republican candidate Meg Whitman’s (former eBay CEO) multimillion-dollar run to become Governor of California.

A cheap attack aimed at withering away wavering supporters.  Not great in my opinion – the narration doesn’t flow easily and the ‘buy it now’ button comment with the visual of the plane wing doesn’t make much sense.  But it’s certainly pretty ‘freaky’.

Negative political advertising – it’s nasty, but it works

Two of adlands most prolific bloggers have today written about the depths that political advertising has plunged to during the mid-term elections.  Polling day is tomorrow and both Seth Godin and  The Ad Contrarian have highlighted how the vast majority of negative political advertising is used to dissuade the undecided electorate from turning out.

The basic logic of running negative ads goes as follows – ‘if they aint gonna vote for us, let’s make sure they don’t vote at all’.  Convincing voters to stay at home sounds like a strange strategy to win an election, but most of the research data shows that it works.

“Since 1960, voting turnouts in mid-term elections are down significantly, and there’s one reason: because of TV advertising. Political TV advertising is designed to do only one thing: suppress the turnout of the opponent’s supporters.”

Seth Godin

“Political advertising has been horrifying for a long time now. But it has reached a level of nastiness and deception that I believe is unprecedented….

…The thing that should be really frightening to us ad people is that nobody studies the effects of their advertising like the political class. They test everything. They are constantly polling to see how their advertising is affecting their numbers.

Unfortunately, we ad people have to face the reality that this horrible advertising and the strategies behind it are alarmingly effective. It’s very sobering.”

Ad Contrarian