There’s been a great deal written recently – by the likes of John Prescott, Mark Jones and Alastair Campbell – about the death of the political billboard. Indeed The Times are running a story saying that Labour will not be running any posters whatsoever.
After airbrush-gate, Tory Tombstone and #IveNeverVotedTory it’s understandable that the directors of communications for the political parties will be apprehensive about booking billboards and put their creative agencies under even greater scrutiny.
However, the truth of the matter is that the billboard hasn’t been used as a genuine broadcast medium by political parties for some time. By ‘genuine’ I mean that the primary objective of political billboards in recent times has been to drive the news agenda. The days that the whole country has been plastered with a given political poster are long gone. The rules on donations now prevent the major media owners donating space to their party of preference and buying the requisite number of space is simply too expensive for our cash-strapped political parties.
Parties will and should continue to run outdoor advertising. But they will and should do it more tactically. Outdoor advertising is simply the most impactful media platform available to a political party. The sheer scale of a 96-sheet poster, the incredible numbers of people who can be reached at targeted locations and the media notoriety that results from a really provoking piece of outdoor advertising means that I’ve a feeling we’ll be seeing the political billboard in elections for many years to come.