Hamish Pringle on celebrities and politics

Hamish pringle celebrity sells

At around 1pm today the listeners to BBC Radio Ulster’s programme ‘Talkback’ were graced by the special guest appearance of Hamish Pringle.

Hamish Pringle is the former Director General of The Institute of Practitioners in Advertising, an advertising legend, author of popular business book ‘Celebrity Sells’ and Father to the author of this humble blog.

Following David Bowie’s “Scotland, stay with us” comment on last night’s Brit Awards, Pringle was invited on to the show to discuss the influence of celebrities on the outcomes of elections, public policy and referendum polls.

When asked whether it will have any impact on Scottish voters, Pringle was sceptical, commenting: “Sir Alex Ferguson is a veteran and very public Labour Party supporter, but I am not sure Manchester United fans take any notice of that fact when they go to the polls”.

Pringle went on to highlight that some celebrity endorsements seem to have the opposite effect, citing “The Curse of Eddie Izzard”: Izzard has publicly endorsed Britain joining the Euro, Ken Livingstone against Boris Johnson, Gordon Brown in 2010 and the ‘Yes’ vote in the 2011 AV Referendum, all of which have failed miserably.

Pringle stated that there were two important ways in which celebrities can be used to the benefit of political causes:

  1. Fundraising; he pointed to the extraordinary funds raised by Oprah Winfrey for Barrack Obama.
  2. Amplifying a core idea; he referenced Sarah Silverman’s involvement in ‘The Great Schlep’ where she helped deliver an idea rather than being the idea herself.

Sounds very sensible indeed.  He must read this blog more than he lets on.

Hamish is currently Strategic Advisor to agency 23 Red and is on the Council of the Advertising Standards Authority http://www.asa.org.uk

Labour isn’t working – the history

labour isnt working historical context


Advertising industry trade magazine Campaign has today run a feature on the history of the most famous piece of political advertising in British history – Saatchi & Saatchi’s Labour Isn’t Working (1978) for the Conservative Party.

Included in the article are the following nuggets:

1. The poster was picked out from a selection of roughs by Gordon Reece, Thatcher’s election strategist.

2.  The people in the queue are not genuine unemployed people, but are in fact members of Hendon Young Conservatives.

3. Martin Walsh photographed the same people over and over again, rather than a single long line, due to the shortage of volunteers for the shoot.

Here’s a high res version of the original poster:

labour isnt working

If David Cameron made a Facebook movie

Last week Facebook marked their 10th birthday by unveiling a new feature called “Look Back” that creates personalised videos highlighting users’ top content over the years.

Social media sites have been awash with people sharing their videos and, as is the way with anything that gains popular traction online, a series of parodies have followed.  Today, the Labour Party released a “Look Back” video on behalf of David Cameron.

It’s well made and features all the policy u-turns, gaffs and ‘gates that one would expect.  Well played to the team who pulled it together, it’s a nice mix of serious issues and cringe-worthy embarrassing moments.

They’ve slightly missed the moment – these parodies now feel like last week’s news – so it’s unlikely to have the same impact as it might have done 5 or 6 days ago.  However, no doubt the rapid response team will have learnt something by going through the process and I’m sure turnaround and approval speeds will only improve from now until election day 2015.


Employing your cleaner illegally?


UK politician Mark Harper MP today resigned his position as Immigration Minister after realising he had been employing a cleaner who has been working in the country illegally.

Political Scrapbook, a left wing blog, has jumped on the scandal and produced the above image which brilliantly pastiches the government’s anti-illegal immigrant advertising campaign from last year.

A fantastic piece of political parody and point scoring from @psbook.

The two futures facing Scotland

Scotlands future two choices

The Yes to Scottish Independence campaign have released this nicely art directed piece of communication.

The real challenge with creating communications for the independence referendum is  to deliver a simple message when the issues are often relatively complex constitutional matters.

This image nicely conveys the broad emotive sentiment of the Yes campaign which is “our future should be in our hands”.  It doesn’t get bogged down in the detail of currency unions, tax relief on savings or EU ascension.

The Yes Campaign obviously don’t feel they’re at the stage where wavering voters will respond well to communications which don’t at least pretend to be ‘giving information about the vote’. But I wonder how much longer until they ditch any pretence at rational information giving and go purely for the gushy stuff.

Yes Campaign borrow FT Equity

Yes Campaign borrow FT Equity

The Yes campaign are using a quotation from an article in the Financial Times in their latest piece of online content.

3rd Party endorsements are an essential element to any campaign and few are as highly regarded with regards to matters of the economy than the FT. However, both sides are using FT articles as endorsements.

It will be interesting to see if the FT act to clarify their position.

Say Goodbye to the Pound

Goodbye Scotland Referendum better together copy


The Better Together campaign that is hoping to convince the Scottish electorate to vote to stay in the United Kingdom have released the above very striking image.

A range of economic commentators and policy makers, from Bank of England Governor Mark Carney to Chief Economist at the FT, have recently intervened to highlight the problems that Scotland will face with their currency if they do indeed leave the Union.

The above image is brilliantly simple and will play gently on the minds of voters still worrying about the economic impact of a ‘Yes’ majority.