Category Archives: London Mayor 2012

How to Sack Boris

The non-party political Sack Boris campaign have been really impressive throughout the London Mayoral campaign.

They’ve produced a huge amount of content and I’ve no doubt that they’ve had a tangible impact on the discourse and eventual outcome of the race.

Above is the ‘How to Sack Boris’ leaflet that I was handed this morning at Kensal Green station.  It tries to simply breakdown the steps necessary to evict the incumbent candidate.

To be honest, they’ve made it seem slightly more difficult than necessary, but I suppose just writing “don’t put mark anywhere near Boris’ name or anything else which features the Conservative Party logo” would have been a blunt.

I’ve written previously about the Sack Boris campaigns ‘Boris Isn’t Working’ posters.  Below are a couple of iterations that have been released since then:

The Tories are on a different planet

Ken Livingstone’s campaign have released a new poster which accuses Boris Johnson and his Conservative Party colleagues George Osborne and David Cameron as being blue aliens from another planet.

The aim of the poster is to link Boris Johnson’s policies in London with those of the government.  This is a sensible strategy, as recent polls have shown that the national party’s actions seem to be having an impact on voter intention in the capital.

I don’t love this poster.

The headline and visuals are neither funny, clever or particularly cutting for an attack poster.  It just feels a bit flat.

If the message you want to convey is “These Tories are a bunch of posh boys and they don’t know what real life is like”, why not say that in the most punchy or amusing way you can?

This feels more like Labour are blowing a raspberry rather than giving a sucker punch.

UPDATE *** Here’s the high resolution version that ran in today’s Metro

Boris Johnson: The NightMayor

Finally!  A decent piece of video content for one of the candidates for London Mayor (although Paddick’s official campaign claim to have had nothing to do with it).

The NightMayor attacks Boris Johnson for his percieved absence during the 2011 London Riots and his purported culprability for issues surrounding News of The World links with the Metropolitcan Police.

The film concludes with a piece of positive messaging around Brian Paddick, the Liberal Democrat candidate, and leaves viewers with the damning end line “jokes aren’t funny the second time around”.

The video carries a simply and effective narrative by professionally putting together  existing footage of both Boris Johnson and the Lib Dem candidate.  Yes, the ‘movie-trailer-as-political-ad’ has been done to death, but if it’s done well it can be very impactful.

Whoever’s pulled this together has obviously had some experience in production and, my word, doesn’t it show.  Paddick’s campaign is having a strong back straight!

Brian Paddick Poster – Police are wasted on cannabis

Brian Paddick’s campaign have released a poster which calls for London’s police force to take a more relaxed position on dealing (tee hee) with cannabis.

It features the headline “Police are wasted on cannabis” and asserts that massive amounts of police time, money and energy is misspent policing the sale and use of the herb.

Now this is a ballsy advertising! As David Trott, creative advertising legend, famously says: the first job of any piece of advertising is “get noticed”.  Well done Team Paddick for having the cojones to be bold.

Brian Paddick has two significant points of difference from the mainstream candidates:

1. His background, policing, isn’t one of either of the ruling elites that most people despise – politics or journalism.

2. He has some policies which differentiate him from the two leading candidates; in this case, relaxation of rules on policing smoking marijuana.

And, as any sensible marketeer would do, he’s making these points of ‘product difference’ into seemingly functional benefits.  Very good.

The next step is to build an emotional connection, based on these functional benefits, with the audience.  If I was running his campaign, I’d be busy thinking up an ad along the lines of “what London means to me”.

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Ken Livingstone – Party Election Broadcast 2012

Ken Livingstone has released a party election broadcast for his bid to become London’s Mayor that uses ‘ordinary Londoners’ to deliver his call to arms.

Put yourself into Ken Livingstone’s campaign manager’s shoes for a minute:

You are incredibly strapped for cash and you’ve realised, probably slightly too late in the day, that the airtime for your political broadcast is just around the corner.

Opting for a vox pop approach ( broadcasting term for interviews with members of the general public) is an attractive and sensible proposition for a campaign manager in your position.

Firstly, you can easily sell it to your left-of-centre candidate as being a great example of being a Man Of The People: “Ken, it’s a grass-roots approach that exemplifies your candidacy.”

Secondly, it’s cheap; there’s no expensive talent costs, set design or lengthy post-production required.

Thirdly, it’s pretty easy to do.  You can even write the script!  And be The Director!!

You’ve just got to pick your message, use the simplest language you can manage to create the narrative and get ordinary looking punters, in ‘normal’ looking locations, to read it out.  All the while you get to gesticulate enthusiastically behind the camera and casually drop Hollywood film-making clichés.

All completely fair enough and I, put in the same position, would almost certainly do the same thing.  Except…

I WOULD BUY A F*****G TRIPOD.

It’s so unbelievably distracting having the camera wobble around whilst Janet – the OAP in the local cafe – tries her absolute best to deliver a devastating commentary about police cuts.

Not using a tripod, or even perhaps a shoulder mounted camera, is so painfully amateur that it makes me want to pick up Ken’s YouTube channel and throw it out the 7th floor window of my West-London based advertising agency.

And, before you say it, no, this isn’t an attempt at using a POV shooting style popularised by the Jason Bourne films and innumerable amateur online porno clips.  It’s just lazy and crap.

I’ll ignore the shitty quality of the video that is currently uploaded.  They’ve, hopefully, created something of broadcast quality for the TV space, so I’ll put the tragic pixilation of the tape down to an encoding error that can be easily done (he says knowingly) and quickly amended.

Ken offers £1000 off TfL fares

Ken’s campaign launched a ‘travel voucher’ for distribution to the electorate.  As Ken explained at a press conference this morning:

‘Today I am launching my ‘London Travel Voucher’. I am saying to Londoners – keep hold of this voucher so that you have physical evidence of my promise to cut your fares. The voucher will be available online from today, but will only be valid if I am elected as Mayor on 3 May. Londoners who want to save £1,000 need to use their vote to cut fares.’

It’s not the most beautiful piece of communication, but in fare-ness (sorry) not many vouchers win awards for their creativity.

Ken’s campaign are really putting all of their eggs in the Fare Deal basket.  Their polling must show that it’s paying off.  Either that, or they havent got anything else up their sleeves.

Boris isn’t working poster campaign

Sack Boris 2012 are trying to raise funds to run an advertising campaign to promote their cause in advance of the London Mayoral elections in May.

They’ve posted scamps of the two posters that they intend to create and run.  They both pay homage to Saatchi & Saatchi’s Labour Isn’t Working poster that set (and continues to maintain) the bar for political advertising.

Whilst adverts that are pastiches, imitations or pistakes of prior campaigns can never live up to the originals, I would nevertheless love to see these posters get made for real.

These two iterations are directly relevant to issues that are live in the election race and the visual and linguistic mechanic of the original hasn’t been stretched too far.

Is Boris Working?

Hypernaked have created an amusing new microsite for the ‘Sack Boris’ campaign called ‘Is Boris Working?‘.  It’s based on a popular online meme, which in this instance involves users being given various amusing negative responses to the question “Is Boris Working?”.

It seems to have got a good amount of traction online and is the sort of thing that non-politico, floating voters would engage with.

It just goes to show that online political advertising doesn’t have to break moulds or be particularly clever to work; if it’s funny, people will pass it round.

Better off with…?

Guido Fawkes yesterday pointed out the similarities between the logo that Boris released yesterday and the branding device subsequently pushed out by Ken’s team.  Guido describes the story:

Boris launched his new “Better Off With Boris” logo with it adorning his Progress Report at Mayors Question Time this morning. Ken copied it with a “Better of with Ken” logo which looks remarkably similar. Alas Team Ken in their hurry to cobble it  together forgot to register BetterOffWithKen.com.which now links to the NotKenAgain.com website. 

As Boris Backer has pointed out, Ken’s logo looks like the work of an intern using MS Paint; Ken’s marketing team seem to have given up on any level of quality control and seem to be happy that their candidate comes across as a (low quality) student union hopeful.

The only thing of note with regards to the Battle of the Badges is that neither candidate includes any reference or nod to their party.  This should be applauded.  Both candidates realise that their political party has relatively little to do with this election and have kept it single-minded.

Steve Pound MP features in new Ken Livingstone Fare Deal video

Ken Livingstone’s campaign have released a comically bad video to support their Fare Deal policy pledge.

The film features Steve Pound MP, dressed up as a professor, explaining how Ken’s fares policy is viable.

Have they used a campaign staffer’s desk lamp as the lighting rig?  Is it filmed in some mouldy town hall’s meeting room? And did they buy Pound’s outfit from Ann Summers?

Pound’s performance is so awkward, the production values of the video are so awful and the sound effects are so atrocious, that the viewer will not absorb any of the message.  Making this video was a complete waste of campaign resource and energy (even if it only took an hour, which it won’t have).

This film is a damning indictment of the state of British political marketing.  It’s cheap, it’s badly thought through and it’s nasty.

The only chance this video has of getting views is if people send it round as something to laugh at.