The Liberal Democrats have released a poster which borrows from the Conservative poster ‘road to recovery’ (a.k.a ‘highway to hell’) from earlier in the year.
The strategy is sound enough; it accuses Labour of being profligate with public money and the Conservative Party of being ruthlessly obsessed with cuts.
The creative execution is, however, very lazy indeed. Creating a ‘piss-take’ poster 3 weeks after the original came-out is completely pointless. It’s either got to be within hours of the original or not at all. And even then, it has to be very funny indeed. This is neither timely, nor amusing. Must do better.
The Green Party have released a poster to coincide with the fact that the Sun Newspaper have decided to stop featuring topless glamour models on it’s Page 3.
The advert carrying the end line ‘Spot the difference’ features the leaders of the Conservatives, Labour, Lib Dems and UKIP taking part in The Sun Newspapers stunt to launch their coverage of the 2014 World Cup. This is placed in stark contrast to Caroline Lucas, Green Party MP, who is pictured wearing a t-shirt campaigning against the Sun’s daily publication of partially naked girls in.
The implication of the poster is that those parties have long been courting the Rupert Murdoch owned newspaper and in doing so have been complicit in the regular dose of sexism that some feel Page 3 served up.
It’s a very clever piece of advertising that distances the Greens from their competitors and will likely be successful at recruiting the support of those who favour a radical break from the political parties that have dominated elections in Britain for the last few decades.
The Green Party have released a poster which challenges the other, male-led, political parties to allow them into the televised leaders debates.
The Greens have seen a bounce in the polls since the issue around their lack of invitation to the TV debates was raised, so it’s unsurprising they’re trying to maintain momentum on the topic.
The poster’s headline “what are you afraid of, boys” also highlights that the Green Party’s only MP is female and that the party is also led by a woman; celebrating this point of difference versus the competition will help them pick-up left wing anti-Westminster votes.
The Labour Party have released their first batch of posters since the start of the official General Election 2015 campaign.
Both focus on the NHS. And both are absolutely terrible.
One features a meme from the 2010 election as its basis and includes a 21 word headline (one should always aim for 8 or less). The other uses a stock image and the level or art direction you would expect from someone using PowerPoint for the first time.
This sort of thing makes the party look so completely cheap and thoughtless. Not exactly two values which people aspire to associate themselves with.
The official General Election 2015 ‘long campaign’ only began in late December and we have already had the first instance of public outcry about the fact that political parties are not governed by the usual rules that ensure that advertising is tasteful and decent, honest and legal.
In short: political parties can say and depict whatever they like in their advertising and the only reprimand they need to fear is negative publicity and many voters find that lack of regulation unpalatable.
It was not always the case that political advertising was completely unregulated. Until 1999 political advertising was covered by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) for matters of ‘taste and decency’ and ‘the privacy of individuals’, but not ‘honesty’ and ‘truthful presentation’.
The Committee of Advertising Practice (CAP) – the body that writes the Advertising Code – decided that this ‘half-way-house’ arrangement wasn’t working, as partial regulation was leading to public confusion and was discrediting the standards held by commercial advertisers.
CAP felt that either political advertising should conform to all of the ASA’s normal advertising standards or none. A 2003 Electoral Commission report into the issue opted for ‘none’.
The ASA has a justifiable concern about ruling on political ads; as an undemocratic body it would face a legitimacy deficit when intervening in elections. A previous ASA Director was quoted in The Independent in 1997 saying:
“Can you imagine the situation if during the course of an election we are asked to adjudicate on an advertisement on a matter of truthfulness. Say it takes a week for us to judge on it and in the meantime the party making the false claim wins the election. Are we then to rule that they lied their way into power?”
These concerns about the ASA regulating political ads haven’t gone away, but the fact that politicians can make deliberately misleading advertisements without fear of recrimination is ridiculous and the Electoral Commission and CAP should revisit the issue after the General Election.
Last Friday (2nd Jan), the Conservative Party released their first poster of their general election 2015.
The poster features a road that begins in the foreground of the image and runs into the horizon through a green and lush British countryside landscape. The ad carries the headline “Let’s stay on the road to a stronger economy”. The body copy features substantiation to the claim that the economy is improving, including the phrase ‘the deficit halved'; a statement which many in the media claim is a ‘porkie’.
I give the Conservatives credit for the fact that their first poster of the campaign is one which positively states their case for their re-election. That always feels like the appropriate thing for an incumbent to do, as opposed to beginning with an attack on the opposition.
This sort of enthusiastic communication will do a good job of reassuring voters who are already leaning towards voting Tory in May that they are doing the right thing.
However, it must be said, that this is a fairly dull piece of advertising. There is a little in the way of interest or reward for the viewer. Instead of trying to charm the electorate with wit or intelligence the party have tried to avoid risk and deliver a straight message.
The fact that this poster, which is unlikely to gain a huge amount of traction positively as it is so boring, is getting so much negatively publicity (around the deficit claim) will be very frustrating for the Conservative leadership.
Perhaps the middle of road isn’t always the safest place to be.
First Newark, then Clacton and now Rochester & Strood. Next week, The Conservative Party are battling against UKIP in a by-election for the third time in six months.
Whilst every by-election has its own local and contextual factors both parties will now be very aware of the other’s strategy and tactics; the lessons learnt from these electoral skirmishes will undoubtedly be taken into the final battle that concludes on 7th May 2015.
It is for that reason that the above graphic being distributed in Rochester & Strood is interesting. It is the distillation of 6 months’ worth of brutal by-election campaign communications. Therefore, I expect that the three messages contained in the advert are very likely to be the key facets of the Conservative Party’s pitch for re-election: more jobs, economic growth and tax cuts.
There has been plenty of commentary on how the Conservative Party should deal with the threat provided by UKIP (and to a lesser extent Labour) and it seems that the Tory’s are – sensibly – going to stick with the same formula that has seen governments that go to the polls in times of growth returned time and time again: remind voters that the government are more economically competent than the Opposition and give voters reasons as to why they should be optimistic about their financial future if the status quo remains.
Yes, the Conservatives will almost certainly lose the Rochester & Strood by-election to UKIP, but today more than most days the Conservative Party should have confidence in this strategy for the general election battle. The Office for National Statistics announced this morning that wages are now rising at a stronger pace than inflation for the first time since 2009. Not only will this ease the squeeze on household budgets, it will simultaneously remove credibility from the ‘cost of living crisis’ plank in the Labour Party’s general election campaign platform.
Britain’s recent electoral past demonstrates that if the public is optimistic about the economy and a government has a reputation for economic competence, the Opposition Party is incredibly unlikely to end up in 10 Downing St. If the economy remains strong and the Tory’s stick with the strategy implied in the image above, history dictates that Conservative Party should emerge with the most parliamentary seats.
The strategy sounds simple enough and given that it is one that has been successful so many times in so many countries, one might think that the Conservative Party should have no problem with sticking with it. But political parties consistently allow themselves to be blown off course by relatively minor events (such as losing by-elections to minority parties in their supposed electoral strongholds).