Brand, Izzard, slabs of stone, ads, social media, TV debates, face to face – what has really influenced the voter?


It used to be the posters and national newspapers getting behind a party. This time some people were claiming it was going to be decided through social media. Others disputed that.

The TV debates may have influenced those who Gogglebox but face to face, from pink busses to knocking on doors, still prevails as a key factor in trying to persuade one of the largest percentages of voters – who really aren’t sure who to vote for.

You can’t blame them fro being undecided, many commentators have said this has been one of the dullest, most undefined elections to date. The song, ‘Anything you can do, I can do better’ could be played over a retrospective of the numerous promises made by the politicians attempting to trump each other.

It certainly hasn’t produced any memorable or exceptional marketing – ads, social media or stunts other than one… Ed’s block of stone. What were they thinking? Didn’t anyone say, “let’s just brainstorm for a moment how the other parties might ridicule this idea.” Within hours Photoshoped versions of Ed as Moses and the slab as a gravestone appeared.

While no awards will go the three main parties unexceptional marketing teams, who all seem to be stuck in the past, the real awards must go the public. If this was a social media election it was more about the fun that was had online by bored voters than any serious electorial marketing.

Led Zeppelin Studio London 1969

My favourite was the Cool Ed Miliband fan club, who Photoshoped him into super hero style of images from film, TV and music, I love the Ed Zeppelin spoof. Then there was Milifandom, a student called Abby caused a Twitter storm after declaring herself leader of the #milifandom and suddenly Ed was a pin up among female students.

At least you can have fun with Ed, Cameron just seems too serious.

However, the one person who has stolen the pre-election period was anti-politician Russell Brand. Even Eddie Izzard, cross dressing and turning up in marginal seats like Crouch End, didn’t make as much impact.

Brand’s real success was getting Ed on his Trews show, and despite the Tories mocking both Ed and Brand, in fact Cameron was very rude, both Brand and Ed’s rating went up.

After all, Brand has more social media followers than all the parties put together, so only a dumb politician would not embrace his power to influence a generation who feel disconnected from the political establishment and think a comedian speaks more sense. I wonder if the reason Brand came out and declared his support for Ed was not a way of getting back at Cameron.

As for the Lib Dems, UKip, SNP, Greens and the Tories, there really is very little worthy of note to write about. There’s hardly been any big gaffs this time either.

I think the lesson politicians need to consider the next time round is to change the whole way they market themselves. Stop jumping on bandwagons and get back to basics – a good defining strategy, single minded propositions and learn how to engage consumers.

On the local level, stop chopping forest down and sending a leaflet a day, like one of my local candidates, full of far too copy. No one reads that stuff anymore.

Radical as it is, I think all parties need to change their agencies and get some new thinking in. And to actually listen, no something politicians do easily.

What will be interesting is the autopsy, after the election dust has settled, is what made the large number of floating voters vote one way or another. And what was a waste of time.


FInal Twitter and Facebook figures on 6/5/2015

Twitter followers:                 Facebook Likes

Labour                      215k                                  304k

Conservatives          157k                                  480k

Greens                      137k                                  215k

Lib Dem                   95.6k                                 113k

UKIP                         103k                                  462k

Russell Brand          9.64m

Eddie Izzard             3.66m