The Conservative Party are running paid-for video advertising on YouTube which is targeting voters in marginal constituencies around the country.
This is a ‘first’ in UK politics as no political party to my knowledge has used the platform in this way before. Yes, political parties have long been posting videos to YouTube (which tend to gain minimal views) but no one has put serious media money behind them in order to make sure target voters view the content.
TV advertising is widely accepted to be the most powerful media in hitting businesses objectives; the Conservative Party’s ability to pay for a TV-like medium in their campaign is a massive bonus.
As the Buzzfeed Political Editor notes:
“This gives the Conservatives a massive campaigning advantage over their rivals and allows them to reach potential voters who do not read newspapers or watch TV.”
Political advertising is not allowed on TV outside of sanctioned Party Political Broadcast slots, however as YouTube can now reach mass audiences that law seems increasingly outdated. And the fact that YouTube can target voters much more accurately than traditional TV channels means that, in some ways, it’s an even more potent platform.
The 3 videos featured above are examples of the adverts that target voters will have been served so far. As there’s no requirement for the videos to ‘go viral’ in order to drive views, the Conservatives can afford to be much more direct about their message – something that they seem to be relishing.
Plenty of commentators have pointed out the similarities between the electoral landscape that preceded the 1992 General Election and the circumstances that we find ourselves in now.
Indeed, the Conservative Party have quietly admitted to “dusting down the 1992 play book” in preparation for the 2015 electoral battle.
So, I thought it might be interesting to revisit some of the creative ideas from 1992 that Tory HQ may be resuscitating in the coming weeks.
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.
The #torybingo Twitter storm continues today, having dominated discussion around yesterday’s budget from around 9pm last night. Activists with image manipulation skills are now adding further fuel to the piss-taking by producing their own related imagery.
There is a tumblr account logging many of the posts and countless more plastered across social networks.
The three above are my personal favourites. One is a pastiche of the original poster but instead carries the headline “Get pissed, proles. You might as well, your zero hour contracts give you plenty of spare time”. Another shows David Cameron’s coalition cabinet as a bingo arena. And the final one is a parody of a poster from John Major’s Conservative Party leadership which appealed to working class voters.
The Conservative Party today released an advert drawing attention to changes to beer and bingo taxes in the Budget.
The advert features a big gaudy headline of ‘Bingo’ and celebrates the 1p cut in beer duty and the halving of bingo duty to 10% with the subhead “to help hardworking people do more of the things they enjoy”.
I mean, yeah, it’s quite condescending.
Ok, ok, it’s pretty much the most patronising, ill-conceived and embarrassing political advert I’ve ever seen.
Unsurprisingly, #torybingo took off on Twitter and has been trending nationally for some time now.
@RedAndy54: Shoot badgers for fun, 21 #torybingo
@minigong: Full of hate, 38 #torybingo
@ed_son: House. And another house. And another. And another with a moat. #torybingo
Any Tory with half a brain and a sprinkling of self-awareness would have realised this was a nightmarish, terrible and suicidal idea. I simply can’t believe it was run.
Advertising industry trade magazine Campaign has today run a feature on the history of the most famous piece of political advertising in British history – Saatchi & Saatchi’s Labour Isn’t Working (1978) for the Conservative Party.
Included in the article are the following nuggets:
1. The poster was picked out from a selection of roughs by Gordon Reece, Thatcher’s election strategist.
2. The people in the queue are not genuine unemployed people, but are in fact members of Hendon Young Conservatives.
3. Martin Walsh photographed the same people over and over again, rather than a single long line, due to the shortage of volunteers for the shoot.
Here’s a high res version of the original poster:
The Conservative Party released some content in advance of today’s Autumn Statement. They have played a straight bat and obviously wanted all the chatter and news to be around the statement rather than the supporting social media materials.
However, from these images you get a sense of the key messages that the Tories will be pushing come election time: 1) We’ve cut the deficit 2) We’ve done it whilst maintaining investment in important parts of the economy.