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Political advertising isn’t working

The unveiling of political ads used to be a big event in the run-up to an election. Huge. Campaign launches sparked wall-to-wall coverage on mainstream media, were the top story on the 10 o’clock news and became the subject of many a water-cooler conversation. 

political2bThe creatives have become part of political and cultural history. Think the “Labour isn’t working” poster, depicting an endless dole queue; the infamous Tony Blair “Demon eyes” shot; or the “Wiggy” ad, of William Hague with Margaret Thatcher’s hair, bearing the chilling caution “Be afraid, be very afraid”.

Reaching the missing millions

Women are becoming ever-more disengaged from the often hyper-masculine Punch and Judy performance of British party politics. What does this mean for brands?


Women fought and died to be given the vote; yet, at the 2010 general election, 9.1m women did not exercise this hard-won right. Make no mistake: British politicians have system-atically failed to engage with women. In fact, according to research from Cosmopolitan magazine, millennial women are so uninspired by British politics they would rather vote for politicians who are dead than the main parties’ current leaders.

General election 2015: the fear agenda

New Labour, New Danger was an advertising campaign run in the United Kingdom by the Conservative Party during the run-up to the 1997 UK general election

New Labour, New Danger was an advertising campaign run in the United Kingdom by the Conservative Party during the run-up to the 1997 UK general election

At a time when consumer trust is in diminishing supply, ‘fear marketing’ has reached a new nadir.

As human beings we are morbidly fascinated by death. We slow down on the motorway to gawp at the crumpled, blood-spattered mess of a car accident. When we read about a celebrity committing suicide in the news, we want to know how they did it.

Are the Twittering classes an accurate barometer during this pre-election period?

#cannibalism How can anyone eat another person, even to survive? No morals. Puts me off my Beef Wellington just thinking about it.

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#cannibalism I agree dear. Another glass of Chardonnay?

The first debate: Which Cameron and which Miliband will we see?

Conservative party poster depicting Ed Miliband

Conservative party poster

Simon Pont talks image management, in advance of tonight’s election coverage kick-off.

So tonight’s the night. Channel 4 or Sky, as you prefer. The first pre-election televisual showdown.

David takes on Ed, and while they’re not facing off in a live debate, Paxman will get to look each of them in the whites of their eyes. It should make for great TV. It could also be excruciating. Which will still make for great TV.

Is political advertising looking a bit retro?

The recent DON’T LET LABOUR WRECK IT demolition ball poster by the Tories feels like it should have been running in the 1992 election when they ran posters like ‘LABOUR’S DOUBLE WHAMMY’ and ‘LABOUR’S TAX BOMBSHELL’.


How to win an election


Faced with a seemingly endless flow of scandals, diseases and wars, what does it take for Britain’s politicians cut through and connect with a disengaged public?

Between horse meat scandals, expenses scandals and the small matter of a global economic implosion, the past few years have seen a number of senior figures and major brands fall from grace.

In the case of politics, such events have broken down a lot of trust between politicians and the general public, with many Brits voting for their next leader despite not necessarily trusting any of them or expecting anything from them.

The debate around the debates

Five leadersThis year’s upcoming election is set to be the most unpredictable to date. Recent polling data suggests the outcome is plagued by uncertainty, and everything is to play for, writes Mike Colling, founder and chief executive, MC&C.

Politicians know this and are using every avenue available to win the hearts and minds of the general public. With digital moving up the political agenda, and election manifestos dominating the media, the question for marketers is whether this is a period to avoid or one to seize?

Targeting the floating voter – what can political parties learn from consumer brands?

The dissolution of Parliament on March 30 kicks off one of the longest campaign periods of modern times. Political parties will have an unprecedented five-weeks’ worth of campaigning, with spending caps increased accordingly.

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Media and political worlds collide as the coffers collected from the party faithful (with Conservatives leading the way) across the last few years are handed to the creative and media agencies with instructions to do anything to persuade voters to put them in government.

Newspapers lay down facts, TV pushes the contenders on stage to prove their mettle and posters turn the country various shades of red, blue, yellow (and now purple) with barbed one-liners or a promise for a brighter future. But what can the parties learn from consumer brands when targeting voters?

Max to launch ‘I am an immigrant’ campaign

The Chelsea football fans, who are all over the papers for their racist behaviour, has only added to the debate about xenophobia.


Millions of us have watched the disturbing video. What made it worse was the chant by the football morons that they were racist and obviously proud of it as they chanted, ‘we’re racist, we’re racist, and that’s the way we like it’. Dumb, when you consider in France they can get a 3 year prison sentence for it – well at least the French take racism seriously. In the UK they’ll get a slap on the wrist.