It’s as if those kind people down at the Independent on Sunday felt like giving me a late Christmas present. The Independent on Sunday asked 6 advertising agencies to produce posters for a prospective 2009 General Election. Here are all 10, with analysis, starting with the worst and ending with the best:
0 / 10
This advertisement is so unoriginal I almost didn’t bother including it. What a complete rip off. And, not only is it a rip off (which is possibly forgiveable), but it is also irrelevant.
The reason why the orginal advertisement worked was that in the public’s mind whenever they saw William Hague they saw an over-enthusiastic ‘tory boy’ who still hankered for a Thatcher-stlye of government. No one wanted someone who gave a rousing speech to Conservative Party Conference as a 15 year-old, during a Thatcher government, to be their next Prime Minister. That’s why the original was clever, funny, poignant and relevant. Trying to link David Cameron with Margaret Thatcher, politically or historically, is a terrible, terrible strategy. And yet, this creative execution somehow manages to do a disservice to it.
As well as all that, if you’re a political party that has been in government for 11 years and you’re putting out advertising with copy that reads “things could be far worse”, the public aren’t exactly going to thank you for it.
1 / 10
If you were trying to sell a Mars chocolate bar, would you put as the headline on your poster “Cadbury’s Dairy Milk chocolate tastes fantastic!”? No, you wouldn’t. Even if you had left plenty of space on the poster to then include a series of hilarious and incisive counter-arguments against the title statement, you would still sell less chocolate bars than if you had simply said, in big, bold letters: “Mars chocolate bars taste fantastic!”.
The same is true with ‘attack’ political advertisements. People spend a fraction of time reading a poster, and even less if the subject matter is politics. To dedicate that brief moment of interaction to telling them: “David Cameron’s got the X-factor” – with a big, full colour photo of David Cameron beneath it – is not going to leave them with a gritty determination to go out and vote Labour.
2 / 10
The main problem with this advertisement is that it quite clearly doesn’t answer the brief. A criminal error in adland. The brief was essentially ‘make a political advertisement for a general election in 2009′. Unless the election is held in December 2009, this is an absolute turkey. There are numerous other things wrong with this, but none that quite so bad as giving the client something they can’t possibly use.
3 / 10
Let me have a guess at how this execution got devised…”So…the Labour government has borrowed lots of money… and there was also a fairly average film a few years ago called ‘The Borrowers’… so why don’t we replace the faces of the characters from the film ‘The Borrowers’ with the faces of leading figures from the Labour Government!”
Not many people saw, remember or liked the film ‘The Borrowers’. And certainly not enough people to justify using it as the spearhead of a political strategy to get a party elected who have never governed this country before.
4 / 10
This poster tries to liken Gordon Brown to a benefit thief. It’s not very obvious why he’s like a benefit thief; I suppose the substantiation is that “Gordon Brown’s [percieved] various failures have unfairly taken from the public purse – like that of a benefit thief”. Not exactly the easiest cognitive leap. ‘Difficult’ advertising – like that of The Economist – can be very powerful if the message is worth the intellectual ‘get’. In this case it’s not.
The advertisement also relies on people having seen, ‘got’ and remembered a previous advertising campaign for a different cause. Like a bad dinner party guest, this poster asks for a lot and gives very little in return.
6 / 10
This poster makes two points. 1) We’re in a recession. 2) It’s Labour’s fault.
The image of Canary Wharf with the lights out is a powerful one. It resonates strongly with people’s fears that the UK economy is in a very bad way. The title copy ‘Recession. Proof.’ cleverly makes a mockery of claims that Gordon Brown made, not so long ago, about ending boom and bust economics.
The copy at the base of the poster is overly long-winded. Something shorter and snappier like ‘Labour’s turned the lights off on the British economy’ (deliberate reference to THAT Sun headline) would be more commanding.
6 / 10
Alastair Darling’s eyebrow/hair colour combination is very funny. Putting it on a massive poster and taking the piss out of it would certainly win you some votes. I think this poster would be helped with a bit of substantiation, mainly as I’ve never listened to Alastair Darling for long enough to know what he’s promised us in the past… not that I think it would match up with what the economy’s doing now… it would just make the poster that much more powerful.
7 / 10
This is another amusing piece of mickey-taking. It likens Brown and Darling to the accident-prone comedy duo Laurel and Hardy. Brilliantly simple copy writing and the image encourages a gentle, albeit morbid, chuckle. A nice simple way to link in people’s minds the Prime Minister and the Chancellor as a couple of hapless jokers who you wouldn’t want running your country.
8 / 10
A simple idea, executed very cleanly. It definitely couldn’t be a poster but would be very powerful as a newspaper insertion.
It communicates to people that tax cuts don’t come for nothing, particularly in our current economic circumstance. The reducing size of the text also highlights the relatively minor amount of VAT that has been removed. The fact that the ‘we will tax you for it in the future’ is in the smallest print reinforces the message that the government might try and recoup losses using much publicised ‘stealth taxes’.
9 / 10
Brutally simple. For a change the Conservative Party are harnessing the intense, raging properties of the Labour red to help hammer home their message that the blame for the recession resides with the Labour Party. This poster encapsulates a lot of the anger some of the population will be feeling towards the government and it gives the impression that the Conservative Party understand such sentiments and are on their side. A fantastic poster.