What the Scandis think of UK election video campaigns

In the next in my series of political advertising analyses, I explore which of the video campaigns have been innovative and effective. Read more >>

Labour: Martin Freeman’s Endorsement

Celebrity endorsements are always a risky business. Even within the commercial space, by receiving the approval of a public figure a brand is immediately and irrevocably connected to that person. Anything they do from then on, or have done secretly in the past, will inevitably affect the brand’s reputation. In essence, the choice of celebrity is key.

Here, the choice seems populist rather than considered. Martin Freeman is an expert of acting, the arts and hairy Hobbit feet. He is not an expert in politics. If Labour are to create a video so heavily orientated around a single person, it seems strange that there is not a single politician in sight. With political advertising the leader is the brand and so replacing Ed Milliband with an actor the Labour party comes across as evasive. To me, the video illustrates a lack of confidence in their leadership.

Aesthetically speaking however, the simplicity of the film is effective. The subdued white background focuses the attention on Freeman sharply, and the lack of writing around the Labour logo is tasteful. That said, the filming of the film cameras is unnecessarily meta, reminding us all how this is still a performance, which in turn compromises the sincerity of the video.

Clarity of message: 9/10
Creativity: 4/10
Aesthetic appeal: 4/10
Impact: 4/10

Overall: 5/10

Conservative: Securing a better future for your family

The Conservatives video is very much in keeping with all the other advertising I have seen from their party: traditional, unadventurous and targeted at a certain demographic. The use of happy looking children and their families is a very exclusive message, but one that is evocative for parents who watch the video.

There is a disparity between the aesthetic and the text however, with the images of carefree children clashing with the hard written political messages that pop up on-screen. The family orientated story told by the video is idyllic (to the point where it has elements of stock imagery to it), whereas the words appear technical and impersonal.

This does mean that the overall message is one of connection: as the video illustrates the unbreakable link between family and economy. This is a vey clever technique, forging even perhaps subconscious associations between a good family life and a growing economy (the main Conservative promise).

In strictly visual terms, the children provide a pleasant, positive and inoffensive backdrop. As touched on in my last blog, consistency is key with any advertising campaign: political or not. The Conservatives in this video keep with the party line, showing a clear and constant vision of what they want to achieve.

Clarity of message: 10/10
Creativity: 3/10
Aesthetic appeal: 3/10
Impact: 3/10

Overall: 4/10

Green Party: Change The Tune

It goes without saying that this is the most innovative, original and exciting of all the political videos. While the others have played it safe, the Green party has lived up to its irreverent and hipster reputation with this amusing piece of advertising.

The use of a black woman to introduce the video sets the tone for the rest of the film: that British politics is saturated with people who all look the same and come from the same socio-economic backgrounds. Her presence in the video reinforces the similarity in appearance of the four party leaders to good effect. As an outsider, this video seems incredibly British – as though the Union Jack is actually draped behind an out of tune Boyzone.

From an advertising viewpoint, it is hard to tell exactly how forceful sarcasm and irony can be as devices. The video is most definitely ‘Youtube friendly’ and sharable (which explains why it has many more views online than the other videos) but I cannot help but think that its influence may not be as extensive as its popularity. The video focuses on highlighting the weaknesses of the other parties rather than promoting the strengths of the Greens, which may dilute the power of the film.

Personally speaking, this is my favourite video by far but I would not expect this to be the same for everyone. Viewers will either enjoy its controversy or find its silliness a bit annoying. As British people would say, it’s the Marmite of political advertising videos.

I wonder if the public will love it or hate it?

Clarity of message: 10/10
Creativity: 7/10
Aesthetic appeal: 6/10
Impact: 5/10 (it can either work or backfire)

Overall: 7/10

Digge Zetterberg is head of talent for The North Alliance, a collective of creative agencies from Scandinavia