The Conservatives have hired political consultants Sean Topham and Ben Guerin to run the party’s online campaign and this week we saw one of their signature tactics deployed.
Sean Topham and Ben Guerin are two new recruits to Conservative Campaign HQ. They are both from New Zealand, have previously worked for Lynton Crosby’s firm CTF and served alongside Isaac Levido (another Crosby protégée), who is currently the Conservative Party’s Director of Politics and Campaigning.
Topham, Guerin and Levido all served on the successful election campaign of Australia’s Liberal Party which resulted in the shock election of Scott Morrison as Prime Minister.
This week we saw the Conservatives deploy a political advertising tactic used previously by the former Liberal Party team: “boomer memes”.
Boomer memes are deliberately basic, badly-designed social media adverts which use dodgy fonts, jarring colours and lousy art direction.
The user-generated style means they look like “normal” internet content – rather than slick ads that people are adept at ignoring. The meme-tastic approach is to try and make the messages more likely to cut through voters’ cluttered social newsfeeds.
But let’s not give the new Kiwi arrivals all the credit – particularly in a week where England will take on the All Blacks in the rugby World Cup semifinal; Dominic Cummings and Vote Leave pioneered this populist, anti-campaign style in the 2016 EU referendum.
The official Leave campaign eschewed most of the slick techniques and celebrity endorsements adopted by the Stronger In team which made the Brexiteers feel “real”.
Rumours suggest that Cummings is also the reason why we’re seeing former Lynton Crosby employees at the helm of the Tories campaign, rather than the Wizard of Oz himself; Cummings and Crosby don’t see eye-to-eye and Downing St ain’t big enough for the both of them to comfortably coexist.