Sticky language

DIY recession stronger in

I’ve just come across this graphic that was released on Monday of this week, the same day that David Cameron and George Osborne wrote an article for the Daily Telegraph warning that Brexit would put the British economy in serious danger.

I’m sharing it because I thought both the article and the accompanying graphic included a brilliant piece of ‘sticky’ messaging and is an example of the sort of language that provides the ideal springboard for developing creative communications.

If you read the excerpt below, the first two paragraphs are decidedly standard. They use the sort of language and terminology that one would expect from a politician making an argument.

However, the final paragraph takes the straight information and gives it a twist so that it speaks to the audience in a language they can relate to.

“The analysis produced by the Treasury today shows that a vote to leave will push our economy into a recession that would knock 3.6 per cent off GDP and, over two years, put hundreds of thousands of people out of work right across the country, compared to the forecast for continued growth if we vote to remain in the EU.

In a more severe shock scenario, Treasury economists estimate that our economy could be hit by 6 per cent, there would be a deeper recession and unemployment would rise by even more.

This would be, for the first time in our history, a recession brought on ourselves: a DIY recession.”

The phrase ‘DIY recession’ conjures up vivid imagery and perhaps personal associations that should result in better retention of the information.

This language is useful for communicating with the public, but it is also helpful for creative teams developing further ideas for posters, videos and leaflets.

The graphic developed by Stronger In is solid enough, but it wouldn’t surprise me if M&C Saatchi are beavering away at creating something which makes the point in a more evocative and newsworthy way.

Vote Leave’s new poster uses Turkey as a bogeyman

Vote Leave - Turkey is joining the EU - poster

Vote Leave have released a poster depicting a passport as an open door alongside the claim that Turkey is joining the EU.  The stated intention behind the poster is that it aims to highlight to the electorate the additional number of people who might legally migrate to the UK if Turkey was allowed to join.

The poster is a follow-up to a video released two days prior which accused David Cameron of being duplicitous about the likelihood of Turkey joining the EU.

Vote Leave have thus far struggled to establish a bogeyman for their campaign.  You can read about why that might be here.

But the fact that they’ve done a few bits on Turkey suggests to me that their research shows that a proportion of floating voters would lean towards Leave if they were told that the secular middle eastern republic would join the EU in the short to medium term. In short, they’re testing the waters of making Turkey their bogeyman.

This is the first time that Vote Leave have deployed a poster about immigration.  The fear of accusations of racism is surely the only reason for the hesitation, as poll after poll shows that immigration is a top issue for voters and that those who favour limiting it highly correlate with those likely to vote Leave.

Some are indeed accusing the poster of deploying racist dog-whistle tactics, rather than raising legitimate concerns around immigration numbers, but whether Vote Leave stick with this line of attack will depend on poll numbers not headlines.

Previously the Vote Leave campaign had been pushing a message, requiring a fair amount of mental gymnastics, around spending the money we’d save from EU membership on the NHS (see poster below).

The Vote Leave strategy up until now must have been based on the assumption that they wouldn’t win 51% of votes cast with an immigration-only message.  As they judge that to be the case, they’ve been trying to add to their supporter base those who care deeply about the NHS.

It will be interesting to see if this Turkey activity is the first evidence of Vote Leave giving up on their coalition-building agenda and shifting their focus towards what most people assumed, prior to the campaign, would be their core message.





Stronger In have released a new campaign titled VOTIN which aims to appeal to da yoof.  There’s a short video (above) some print advertising (below) and a website.

The campaign encourages viewers to register to vote by featuring activities that (Stronger In suspect) will appeal to young people and suggests that their viability is at stake in the EU referendum.

The reason Stronger In will be targeting youth is that most research suggests young people are very likely to be pro-EU, however, very few are reckoned to be registered –around only 20%.

Various commentators and broadcasters are accusing of it of oversimplifying the debate and of patronising young people, but I would be surprised if the intended audience see or read such charges, such is their want for avoiding traditional news coverage.

I’m betting Stronger In will be using these materials to directly target young people on social media channels and the fact that the materials resemble the sorts of communication that the audience are likely to engage with makes sense to me.

Could it have been delivered in a less cringeworthy way? Yes, probably.  But is this better than using their existing work and sticking some media money behind targeting a younger audience? Certainly.

Is focusing on negatives the right and proper thing to do?

Negative campaigning and when it backfires Benedict Pringle Campaign Magazine

I’ve written an article, which features in the paper edition of today’s Campaign magazine, about negative campaigning.

I argue that very often negative campaigns are both more truthful and issue-focused than positive campaigns and that if those seeking to persuade voters around election time were limited to positive messaging the electorate would be less informed when they entered the polling booth.

You can read the full article here: 

Review – Brexit: The Movie

I’ve finally got around to watching Brexit: The Movie.  At one hour and eleven minutes long it is surely the longest ever piece of political advertising in the UK.

Nevertheless, the time flies by.

The argument is robustly made , the quality of the talking heads featured is high, the structure of the film is tight and there are good levels of production value throughout.

It successfully positions the EU as a sprawling, self-serving, unaccountable, wasteful bureaucracy that serves the political class and is suffering from long-term, self-inflicted economic decline.

The film powerfully brings into question why Britain would willingly give away law-making powers to an organisation that it can’t effectively hold to account.

Immigration as an issue, interestingly, doesn’t get a look in.

The film is all the more impressive when you consider that it was financed by crowd-funding.  Over 1,800 members of the public contributed to the total of £300,000 which was deployed by  writer / director Martin Durkin and the production company Wag TV.


The cost of leaving the EU

Yesterday the Stronger In campaign released a new poster promoting the cost to individual households of leaving the Eurpean Union.

If you view the graphic on a screen it’s fairly unremarkable, but on a full size poster – with the Prime Minister stood in front it – the image is impressive on account of the billboard looking like an absolutely massive doormat.

And the picture of David Cameron standing in front of it will be more important than the graphic itself getting passed around social media.

The reason being that the poster launch will have been all about getting David Cameron on the Saturday evening news talking about the effect of Brexit on voters’ wallets (which was achieved).

People watching the evening news on a Saturday night will be highly likely to vote and so securing a decent slot to land a campaign message is very valuable indeed.

World War II veterans speak out for Stronger In

This week the Stronger In ‘grid’ is clearly dedicated to convincing people that peace in Europe can be – at least partially – attributed to the European Union.

To coincide with David Cameron’s speech on the issue, the campaign has released a film featuring war veterans attesting to the importance of the EU in maintaining peace between nations.

The heart-warming nature of the video (plus some media spend, I would guess) has led to more than 250,000 views on Facebook; the reach of the video has also been significantly bolstered by TV broadcasters, including BBC news and Good Morning Britain, running stories on the content.

The political instability that would result from Brexit has the potential to be a very persuasive line of attack; it feels like a rich territory and I think Stronger In have only just scratched the surface of where they can take this creatively.

The fact that Putin is on the record as actively supporting Brexit brings him into play as a possible bogeyman; the graphic below went viral back in March which makes me think that an execution with a bit more edge could really cut through.