The excellent University of Nottingham Department of Politics (full disclosure: I am an alumnus) and The People’s History Museum, based in Manchester, are collaborating on a twitter feed which live tweets the 1997 general election campaign 20 years on.
Yesterday they featured an article from the Daily Mirror about an ad campaign that New Labour’s ad agency at the time – BMP DDB (now Adam & Eve DDB) – pitched to their clients.
Whilst Blair didn’t agree to run the campaign – feeling it was “demeaning” – the posters still ended up in front of the public via the tabloid’s editorial coverage.
Given that New Labour would have had to seek permission from the creators of the characters (and likely pay for a license) had the posters run in paid media and the news value of “leaked posters”, it wouldn’t surprise me if a – now infamous – spin doctor had a hand in getting these aired.*
It’s hard to judge these objectively so long after the event, but my instinct is that Blair was right not to run them “officially” – highly personal attacks without any clear basis in an issue have a rich history of backfiring.
You can follow the feed @newdawn1997.
Thanks to a couple of commenters -who pointed me towards the relevant entry in Alastair Campbell’s diaries (below) – I can confirm my suspicions are correct!