Monthly Archives: February 2012

Mitt Flops

This is the first bit of quality political memorabilia that I’ve seen for the 2012 election.  For just under $20 you can purchase yourself some Mitt Flopps, which are…:

“…open-toe thong sandals designed to make sure you can feel the shifting political winds. Is the climate feeling conservative? Stand on your right foot. Looking liberal out there? Stand on your left foot. With Mitt-Flops, your footwear will be popular in any political climate.”

(thanks to Tom Thake for sending).

38 Degrees – NHS Billboard Campaign

The left wing pressure group 38 Degrees are trying to raise funds to run an outdoor advertising campaign about the NHS.  The ambition of the ads is to raise public awareness of the reforms and convince David Cameron that the NHS will be an election issue if he doesn’t rethink his plans.

They’ve so far raised over £80, 000 of their £100, 000 target and it seems likely that the ads will run.  Just over 6000 different individuals have donated, which is not an insignificant number of advocates.

The posters are ‘hard working’ (adspeak for unambitious and requiring minimal effort from the observer), but they will do a job for those already interested in the campaign.  However, the hope for the posters, as stated by 38 degrees, is to scare the uninformed into taking an interest in the reforms.  I’m not sure this slightly bland creative will achieve that.

(Thanks to Sarah Sternberg for sending).

Is “Rombo’s” mudslinging starting to backfire?

Rick Santorum has released a strong new attack video criticising Romney’s seemingly relentless negative advertising. The spot shows a Romney look-alike firing a machine gun filled with mud at Santorum targets, before the weapon backfires and throws mud on to Mitt’s pristine white shirt.

Let’s brush over the fact that it’s a negative ad about negative ads… and focus on the fact that this clever spot is based on a seemingly genuinine (and therefore powerful) insight that elements of the Republican electorate seem to be souring towards Romney’s bully boy approach.

The Washington Post notes that “Romney has to start worrying about the effect all these negative ads might have on his own electability. His favorability rating has been declining at a precipitous rate”

Whilst the Wall Street Journal editorial board wrote that he “isn’t winning friends with his relentlessly negative campaign” and needs “to make a better, positive case for his candidacy beyond his business resume.”

This lighthearted advert makes Santorum look like both a victim and a plucky underdog – no bad thing.

However, Santorum may not be able to play the underdog card for long: a new survey shows Rick Santorum has jumped to a 12-point lead over Mitt Romney nationally in the race for the GOP presidential nomination.  Santorum leads with with 39%, followed by Mitt Romney at 27%, Newt Gingrich at 15% and Ron Paul at 10%.

Ken Livingstone promises to reverse police cuts

Ken Livingstone has released a new video promising to reverse Boris Johnson’s cuts in police numbers.  Let’s face it, this video is pretty boring.

Making a piece of video that goes viral is hard.  It takes time, energy and more often than not, requires you to spend some money on production (or at least have access to someone who has the requisite kit and skills).

More than anything else, it has to contain a piece of creative magic.  Something which is so compelling, innovative, shocking, hilarious or timely that means you can’t help but forward it on to your network.

This new video by Ken Livingstone’s campaign has none of the above.  It’s a very well-trodden creative vehicle, not particularly well executed.  It’s also WAY too long.  There’s a reason why most TV ads are 30 seconds, any more and they can very easily get tired and boring.

Just because you can make a longer video, doesn’t mean you necessarily should.  Most viral seeding companies (people who you can pay to get your video passed around) reccomend keeping it to under 50 seconds.

When making a video that you hope to spread online the ‘hook’ is the single most important thing and you simply can’t afford to think about your message first.  People can choose what they want to watch online and I my bet is that they won’t want to watch this.

Watch Out! There’s Less Police About

Ken Livingstone and the Labour Party have released a new advert in today’s Evening Standard that attacks Boris Johnson for cutting police numbers.

The ad, with the headline ‘Watch Out!  There’s Less Police About’, shows Boris Johnson carring a ‘SWAG’ bag filled with London police offices and asks people to help Boris Stoppers by texting  ‘Copper’.  The advert coincides with the launch of Ken’s ‘Policing Pledge’.

The aim of the ad is to convince people that police numbers are down and that crime is on the rise.  It’s notoriously easy to pick and choose police statistics to make them work for you, so winning the communication battle on crime will be very important for both Boris and Ken’s campaign.

The tone, look and feel of the campaign is similar to the ‘Fare Deal’ campaign in the respect that it’s light-hearted and jovial.  This is a mistake.

Crime is a much more serious issue for Londoners and this copy and visual treatment seems to slightly trivialise the policy agenda.

Had the ‘Fare Deal’ campaign been very aggressive, serious and doomsaying it would have seemed over-the-top.  Yes, fare rises are irritating, but an ad that communicated unbridled outrage would have misjudged the public mood.  Fare rises are a relatively minor irritant, not the end of the world.

Crime, however, is something which the electorate take much more seriously and as such it gives you license to ramp up the drama in your advertising.  This feels like a real missed opportunity to build some negative sentiment against Boris Johnson.

I can understand why they’ve tried to keep some consistency.  It’s good advertising practice for brands as it builds up a more immediate recognition of your comms and improves awareness.  However, this is only worth pursuing – to the detriment of your creative work – if people are likely to actually build up an awareness of your style.

Ken will probably run less than 20 adverts in his whole campaign.  The chances of any normal person catching a glimpse of this cartoon style and immediately and subconsciously registering it as associated with Ken is zero.

*** Update *** here’s a higher resolution version:

The Economist – Where Do You Stand – Drone Strikes and Social Media Censorship

The Economist has released the latest installment of their popular ‘Where do you stand?’ campaign.  One poster questions whether drone bomber strikes are justifiable and the other raises the issue of social media censorship.

(NB. I am involved in this campaign, any comments will be met with hypersensitivity and almost certain incredulity).

Through the posters, The Economist wants to continue challenging non-readers’ misconceptions of the brand by demonstrating its wide-ranging editorial content. Posters also offer potential readers a free copy of The Economist through a text code.

Newt’s 200

Wesleyan Media Project have released data which shows the massive extent to which Romney and his supporters dominated the Florida airwaves.  Romney and his SuperPacs ran almost 13,000 ads on broadcast television across the state, whilst Gingrich and his supporters have aired only 200 spots.

Newt is fighting an advertising battle reminiscent of King Leonidas and his famous 300.  With such huge numbers against him, Newt needs find his creative equivalent of the ‘Hot Gates’ of Thermopylae.

If Newt can create copy which has enough magic to go viral (as Will.I.AM managed to do for Obama in 2008), he could make Romney’s numbers count for nothing.