Democratic Alliance (S.A) cause a stir

The student wing of the Democratic Alliance, the main opposition to the ruling ANC in South Africa, have released this poster on campuses around the country.

The Mail & Guardian Newspaper (South African news publication), who have been reporting on the public outcry, have asked me a couple of questions about it, so I thought I’d share my responses:

–          Do you agree with the sentiments expressed by the Christian Democrat Party and if so, why?

There is no doubt that sex ‘sells’, but there’s a reason why most political parties refrain from using any sort of imagery that could be deemed sexual in their communications.  Individual tolerance as to what is thought of as erotic (and therefore possibly offensive) varies hugely from person to person; what one voter might perceive to be a ‘loving embrace’ another might very easily interpret as ‘promiscuous behaviour’.  For this reason, I’m unsurprised that some people have found the poster distasteful.

When making decisions on political advertising you have to constantly evaluate whether the net result will be positive.  Are the audience you’re trying to win over with your communications more important than the audience you risk offending?  If not, don’t run the ad.

–          What is your take on the poster in question? Is it Clever? Effective?

The first challenge for any piece of communication is ‘get noticed’.  This poster was placed around university campuses.  In order to have any chance of cutting through the thousands of other messages aimed at students on a daily basis, your communication must grab people’s attention (particularly if the thing your advertising is a political party).  This poster by the DA has clearly achieved that.

Secondly, you have to deliver a message to your audience that will be both appealing and motivating.  The idea of a society in which a person’s race isn’t a factor, particularly in a romantic scenario, will certainly appeal to university students who are typically young, upwardly mobile and comparatively liberal relative to the rest of the population. 

I would expect this poster to be effective for the audience that it was intended – it’s an engaging piece of communication that delivers a clear and simple message that is likely to be salient to students.

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