Who is Ivan Massow?

Ivan Massow is hoping to become the Conservative Party’s candidate for London Mayor.

His campaign are running paid-for ads on social media sites that push users to YouTube where they can watch an animated campaign video in the style of artist Julian Opie, the bloke who did that Blur album cover (Massow is an art collector so it wouldn’t be unreasonable to wonder if the video is by Opie himself).

In the film Massow is positioned as a political outsider.  The video, narrated by Massow, informs viewers that the candidate is gay, a former alcoholic and dyslexic.  This candid approach feels very unexpected and the viewer immediately feels a warmth to him.  Massow goes on to attest to being a candidate who understands normal peoples’ lives, takes the tube, hates traffic and gets fed up with the governing elite.

His position is clearly articulated, it’s differentiating and the production values are good.  No mention of the political party which he is hoping to represent, however.

The viewer, having been intrigued by the refreshing tone of the video and the lack of political affiliation, when invited to click through at the end of the video, will likely go and have a look at his website.  On the homepage, there is no mention of his political party.

The viewer, probably now a little suspicious searches online for something like “who is Ivan Massow” at which point they are met with a raft of articles by the mainstream media that confirm he is indeed a Conservative and which call into significant question a huge number of the things that Ivan has just told them in his film.  For example:

He’s a millionaire businessman – does he really “understand the issues that normal people face”?

He lives in a town house in Oxford Circus – is he honestly “someone who takes the tube”?

He used to share a home with Michael Gove and Nick Boles, both prominent Ministers in the Conservative government – can he possibly “hate politics as normal”?

The viewer is left feeling like they’ve been led on a merry dance and that Massow is guilty of the exact sort of inauthentic bullshit that he claims to be standing against.

I’m sure Massow is very different to what most people perceive as a ‘typical Tory’ and in that sense he is entirely justified in positioning himself as an outsider.  But his team trying to hide from people the fact that he is standing for the Conservatives is just ridiculous and ultimately self-defeating as the intrigue will lead voters to finding out about other things they’re trying to keep quiet.

Pocket Rocket: the poster that transformed the media narrative around general election 2015

M&C Saatchi proof pocket miliband salmond media coverage

M&C Saatchi, the creative agency behind the Conservative Party’s “Miliband in Salmond’s Pocket” poster, today ran a house advertisement in the advertising trade magazine Campaign.

Good. On. Them.

I have argued – and will continue to argue – that not only is it the most memorable political poster for years, it must also rank as one of the most effective posters of all time.  The poster – and subsequent coverage relating to its contents – significantly altered the minds of millions of voters and changed the course of British election history.  Not many posters – of any genre – can claim to impacting our society in such a massive and lasting way.

The advert shows how the British media’s coverage of a possible SNP / Labour Coalition deal increased dramatically the day the ‘pocket’ poster was released and continued to grow.

The analysis of newspaper headlines in this advert replicates almost exactly the analysis of google search data that I carried out earlier this week.

As I said when it was launched, this poster will without doubt be the most iconic image of general election 2015 (followed closely by Miiband hubristically revealing #EdStone).  It is the most memorable poster (of any genre) for years.  And given the fact that the poster was the catalyst for popular debate around the possibility of a Labour / SNP Coalition – an issue that is widely accepted to be a significant factor in the Conservatives victory – it must go down as one of the most effective posters (of any genre) of all time.

How the Conservative Party built an election narrative around the SNP using political advertising

How the Conservative Party used advertising to build an election narrative around the SNP

What is becoming clear in the post-election analysis of the results is that the Conservative Party very successfully created a climate of fear in English marginal seats about the prospect of a Labour / SNP coalition.

Yesterday Labour’s official pollster wrote in an article for the New Statesman that their “focus groups showed the SNP attacks landing” and the SNP-related campaign catalysed  “pre-existing doubts about Labour”.

I decided to look for further evidence that the SNP were a significant factor in how people voted and so turned to Google Trends; a free tool that shows how often a particular search-term is entered relative to the total search-volume.

As you can see in the chart above, the volumes of traffic relating to the SNP were very significant and grew dramatically the closer we got to the election.

This is a brilliant example of how political advertising can be used to drive an election narrative.

As evidenced above, before the ‘Miliband in Salmond’s pocket’ poster launch, the possibility of a Labour / SNP coalition was a very minor aspect of media coverage (and subsequently search traffic) on the election.

However, after the launch of the provocative poster – and by sustaining it as an issue by releasing a new poster roughly every fortnight – the Conservative Party successfully built it into an issue that ended up being a deciding factor in the election.

Conservative Party embarrassed by latest poster?

Conservative Party poster dont let SNP grab your cash

The Conservative Party have released a new poster that is plastered across marginal constituencies.  It features Alex Salmond, former leader of the the SNP, pinching some cash from the back pocket of an unsuspecting man.

The poster substantiates the headline claim and image by implying that the SNP would want more borrowing, higher taxes and increased welfare handouts in order to join a coalition government with Labour.

What is slightly strange about this poster launch is that the Conservative Party haven’t mentioned it once on their Twitter feed or Facebook Page.  Usually the Conservatives heavily promote their new posters on their social channels, so there is obviously some reason why this poster is being hushed up (despite the fact that I’ve driven by 3 sites carrying the poster in the 3 days since it launched…).

The only version of it I could find online were photos people had taken and posted on social media.

It’s certainly not one of the Conservative’s better posters.  The line of attack just doesn’t seem tenable.  Crucial to the success of an attack ad is believability; if the viewer hasn’t already had a nagging suspicion about the topic it will likely fall flat.

The ‘Miliband in Salmond’s pocket’ execution was so powerful because it was primarily about leadership.  It was an attack on the ability of Miliband to take control of a government – an idea that almost everyone would have played with in their mind at some point.

This execution, with its focus on the details of a fictional coalition deal, is wide of the mark.

It also seems like the public are beginning to tire of the SNP / Labour line of Tory attack.  The graph below from YouGov should give the Conservatives the nudge they need to return to their original strategy of focusing on the economy and leadership.

Issues discussed enough SNP

Sturgeon pulling the strings


The Conservative Party have released a new poster which features Nicola Sturgeon as a puppet master in control of Ed Miliband.

This is the 4th execution that the Conservatives have released on the theme of a Labour coalition government being at the beck and call of the SNP (Pocket 1, Pocket 2 and Dancer all preceding this one).

The attack has slightly lost its pungency as we are so familiar with it, but I suspect the message is only just beginning to land with undecided (and usually fairly uninterested) voters, so it’s understandable that the theme is recurrent.

The poster is well crafted. Miliband’s stance is awkward and amusing in a slapstick sort of way. The scowl for Sturgeon is well chosen; it’s only slightly menacing so as not to upset English voters that may have been vaguely taken with her during her TV debate appearances.

It’s very interesting to see that Salmond is no longer the boogeyman being featured. I suspect he’s quietly livid that he’s quite literally no longer the poster boy.

The price of Labour: £3,028 extra tax for every working family

Conservative poster 3028 extra tax for every working family

The Conservative Party have opened a new front of attack by criticising Labour’s taxation plans in a new poster.

The Conservatives have plucked arrived at a figure of £3,028 (seemingly from nowhere) for how much extra tax a working family would pay under a Labour government.

This isn’t one of the Tory’s better posters.  It’s fairly direct and doesn’t have much reward for the viewer.

But the poster helped shape the election narrative this week and got the media talking about Labour’s tax plans, so it has to be seen as a mild success.

Salmond calling the tune poster

Salmond Miliband Call The Tune poster

The Conservative Party have launched a poster to accompany the video released earlier this week.

I’m not sure why the two weren’t released together as it has slightly reduced the media impact of the poster.

Nevertheless, this a good political advert and a nice follow-up to the ‘Miliband in Salmond’s pocket’ poster which caused such a stir.

It features a simple, single-minded message delivered with a provocative visual and clean art direction.  It’s not the most hilarious thing I’ve ever seen, but certainly has enough wit to dampen the blow in the minds of the electorate.

I suspect the Conservative Party will worried about going over-the-top with their mocking of Ed Miliband.  They will need to be careful not to seem like braying bullies and I wouldn’t be surprised if this poster is the high-water mark of the Salmond / Miliband baiting.