Top 10 British Political Adverts of 2010


In January 2010 The Conservative Party released a poster, now referred to as Airbrush-gate, championing the NHS and promising a reduction in national debt.  Labour supporters were quick to create a tool to spoof the poster.  I asked the question ‘Will there be one of these tools for every political advert released this year?’ – thanks to,  the answer was a firm ‘yes’.  The site caused the Conservative Party no-end of headaches and embarrasments in the early stages of the election.

9. Gordon’s doing sweet BA (M&C Saatchi)

In March, just over a month before polling day, there was real media momentum around the fact that the Labour Party were funded almost entirely by the very trade unions which the government couldn’t prevent from causing strike chaos.

This poster poked a light bit of fun at the Labour-Union link and delighted the Tory’s right wing.

8. Change We Choose (Labour Party)

The Labour Party didn’t do much positive communication, but this video really captured the spirit of the what supporters felt they were fighting for.

7. EMMA Trust (Team Saatchi)

Throughout the general election there was a constant fear that the BNP would win its first seat in the House of Commons; this poster was the stand-out piece of anti-fascist communication.

6. David Cameron Exposed

The 2nd most viral video of the 2010 general election.

5. The Common People

The most viral video of the 2010 general election.

4. This is what a hung parliament looks like (M&C Saatchi)

Such is the way of the British political media, new = good.  It became more and more apparent to the electorate that a hung parliament was a distinct possibility and the media started treating it like a celebrity ‘will they / wont they’ romance.  The Conservative Party wanted to try and quash any “I wonder what it would be like” sentiment with this witty and impactful poster.

3. Who did David Cameron meet next?

The Leaders TV debates were the single biggest communications factor in the 2010 generel election.  This great website, which took the piss out the formulaic / box-ticking / cringe-worthy manner in which David Cameron answered questions, quickly shot to fame.

2. Step Outside Posh Boy

Ironically the best poster for the Labour Party throughout the general election was in fact an April fool’s day spoof by The Guardian newspaper.  After the immense popularity of the poster, every adman in town claimed that “I told x from Labour HQ 6 months ago that that’s the strategy the party should adopt, but they just didn’t have the jaffas”.

1. Vote For Me (M&C Saatchi)

Following Airbrush-gate and a number of other advertising-related embarrasments, The Conservative Party brought M&C Saatchi – their ad agency prior to Euro RSCG – back into the fold.

Their first batch of posters oozed M&C’s methodology of ‘brutal simplicity’, made people sit up and realise that the campaign had got serious and put the Tories firmly back on the front foot.

Woolas kicked out of parliament for election leaflet

The former immigration minister Phil Woolas was ejected from parliament yesterday after two high court judges ruled that he lied about his Liberal Democrat opponent during the general election. 

The judgment is the first of its kind in Britain for 99 years and is likely to make campaign managers in future elections think a little bit more carefully about the content of their promotional materials.

Woolas, who won the seat by just over 100 votes, is going to appeal the judgment on the basis of freedom of political speech.  In the USA such freedom of political speech is enshrined in law, however, in the UK the issue is much less clear.

Was 2010 an online election?

Apex Communications published a report just prior to the general election which researched PPCs in 100 battleground seats to see how prepared they were for the election and how much of an impact social networking was likely to have in these seats.

The report found that few were prepared enough to take full advantage of the medium through the campaign.

· 10% of candidates had no personal website

· 54% of websites had no links to the candidates’ other social networking sites such as Twitter or Facebook

· Less than half of all candidates were on Twitter and most of those have low levels of interactivity

· Only 29% of candidates used a blog

· Candidates with a national profile, including party leaders, dominated online platforms – 62% of all Facebook supporters and fans of candidates come from the top three most popular profile pages

· Local candidates from the three main parties were equally inactive – and independent candidates and smaller parties like the BNP and Respect exploited online techniques more effectively

(Thanks to Carlo for passing on the report and the press release, that I have quite obviously ripped off for this post)

Dave and Gordon want Nick to be their magic number

Just stumbled across this great piece of media planning from Orange that appeared in press the day after polling day, on Jeni Rogers’ blog.  The creative execution is nicely done, but credit to whichever agency had the foresight to suggest the insertion and a massive pat on the back for the client who had the guts to say yes.

4 advertising lessons to learn from this election

So the first ‘lessons we can learn from this election’ articles are beginning to emerge in the mainstream media.  Below is an abbreviation of a really good article written by Andrew Harrison – Chief Executive of the RadioCentre – in Marketing Week:

First, predictive research, which anticipates how someone might behave in a hypothetical situation (“If there were a general election tomorrow, how might you vote?”) is a lot less reliable than actual behavioral research (for instance, an exit poll that asks “How did you just vote?”)…Good research is the best data we have; believe it and act on it, don’t be in denial of it – especially when it’s telling you what you might not want to hear.

Second, this election reminded all of us of the real pulling power of old media…This was, in fact, an election battle transformed by weekly TV debates – delivering multiple-million audiences – and shaped by the ensuing press response.

The third lesson is equally fundamental: having identified the appropriate media channel with which to engage your target consumer, you still need to deliver memorable advertising – with a compelling proposition, drama and a memorable selling line.  Just 24 hours after the closest-fought election in a generation, most people were hard pushed to recall a single poster, slogan or party political broadcast. Great brands deserve iconic campaigns

Finally, the most valuable lesson of the election was reserved for all of us involved in brand equity, which is that great brands stay true to their principles – they don’t break covenants with the consumer, don’t do deals, and don’t change strategy whenever an opportunity arises. That’s the route to short-term volume gain and long-term equity erosion. In the words of the textbook, they are “built to last”. Unlike coalitions.

The Guardian’s Pick of General Election 2010

Apologies for the short absence, have only just caught my breath after all the fun and games of the general election in the last week.  Whilst I will of course be compiling my ‘best of general election 2010’ shortly – The Guardian have decided that the above poster was their pick of the bunch. 

They also give their favourites all the way back to 1979 (guess which poster won that year…) but unfortunately deprive us of any visual stimulus – which is irritating because some of the older ones are pretty tough to find.

Bailey, Brand and Baldrick feature in Labour’s new video

Labour’s various celebrity supporters wheel out all the reasons under the sun to vote Labour on polling day.  The tone is well balanced and it’s not too sell-y.  Quite a good one for supporters to stick on their facebook status the day before polls as there’s something in there for pretty much every floating voter.