Tag Archives: politics

Obama ad features Romney singing – Firms

Obama has released a new attack ad which features Mitt Romney’s singing voice – mixed to sound even more haunting - as a musical accompaniment to a series of statements which criticise the Republican candidate on his business and financial record.

The hollow singing combined with empty environments shown in the visuals create an eery and uneasy feeling in the viewer.

It’s a strong piece of negative advertising that has clearly touched a chord (sorry…) with the electorate as the video has had over 1 million views within 3 days of launch.  That’s a huge amount for any advert, but particularly impressive for a political ad which doesn’t have anything particularly shocking or amusing in its content.

What the fuck is my social media strategy?

There are three words, that when combined, are responsible for more hours of hot air talked, volumes of bullshit written and vacuous PowerPoint charts created than any other in the history of the English Language.

Social. Media. Strategy.

How many Directors of Communications for political parties, candidates and pressure groups have spent countless hours pouring their hearts and souls into serving up their own brand of social media bullshit to their masters?

No more.

Now, whenever one needs to sound like a guru of all things Twitter, Facebook, and FourSquare simply type whatthefuckismysocialmediastrategy.com into your browser and copy and paste as necessary.

You’re welcome.

The influence of social media in elections

There’s a fantastic article about the influence of social media on elections on Under Strict Embargo.  In it, he disputes Weber Shandwick’s (leading PR agency) assertion that social media will have minimal impact at the next general election. 

Weber Shandwick hold this opinion on account of a consumer survey which found that only 5% of voters would be influenced by things they have seen on social media sites, whilst 59% site national /regional print and broadcast media.

As Daljit rightly points out, traditional media doesn’t sit in a silo from social media.  Social media can and does have a profound impact on the news agenda.  Recent examples of social media campaigns that have picked up significant coverage in the mainstream media include the ‘We love the NHS’ campaign, the Damian McBride affair and the Cambourne / Jedward advert.

I’d be willing to bet that in the run-up to pollling day there will be many more bits of content, seeded on social media, that will end up having a significant impact on the narrative of this election.

Trevor Beattie on Political Advertising

Never forget repossession

I went to a talk by adland guru Trevor Beattie last night at an event held by Monkey Shoulder Whisky.  He covered everything from space travel, to the new very amusing Walls Sausages work but the main thrust of the speech was overtly political.  Beattie, whilst at TBWA, was in charge of the Labour Party’s advertising during the last 3 general elections (example above) and his work has to be given an, albeit small, share of the credit for the party’s electoral success.

He lambasted the party political broadcasts that have been subjected on the electorate recently and stated that the Labour Party would need to significantly up their communications game if they want to succeed in the upcoming general election.  However, Beattie no longer controls the Labour Party’s communications fortunes, as when Gordon Brown came to power he awarded Saatchi & Saatchi the account.  However, I got the distinct impression that Beattie was itching to get back into the political advertising fold…

Sex Sells

Vote for me?

Vote for me?

Camilla Ferranit, pictured above, makes up one of many other glamorous faces that Silvio Berlusconi has unveiled as prospective European Parliamentary MPs for Italy. 

If his candidates are political lightweights and don’t have an idea between them, this is a shameless PR stunt that will doubtless backfire.  The vast majority of people take elections for who will represent them very seriously and any attempt to turn the European elections into a beauty contest will almost certainly be rebuffed.

However, if they are equally or more politically competent, driven and engaged with the population than a bunch of grey haired fella’s then I applaud Mr Berlusconi for bringing in to politics, in his words, “new and young faces”.

New Media Box-Ticking

new media and politics

Kevin Coyne is having a go at using new media to promote his candidacy in the upcoming Unite Union General Secretary elections.  However, like the worst sort of political speeches, it feels slightly ‘box ticky’; almost like it’s going through the motions.  There’s no passion and enthusiasm emerging from any of the political advertising.  You can use new media as much as you like, but the media will always be secondary to the style and inspiration of the communication – which in this case is lacking.

It’s like his campaign manager has gone to a ‘how to campaign like Obama’ event and gathered that in order to win an election all you have to do is: use the word ‘Change’ in your slogan, have a blog, make online donation easy, start a facebook group and have literature to download and pass on.

Don’t get me wrong, using these media channels is essential in an election campaign, but that doesn’t change the fact that the message you’re communicating via these channels has to be motivating and coherent as well as look appealing and attractive.  You can use all the new media channels in the world, if you’re communication looks and reads as boring and amateur as this (below) nobody is going to want to engage with it.

now do you see why I put it at the bottom of the article.

now do you see why I put it at the bottom of the article.

Independent Analysis

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.