Politicos in a marketing demolition derby

The average consumer will have found little to differentiate the parties in this years campaigning for the eventual election. What has stood out is the poor quality of the political party advertising.

Many years ago I was given some advice by James Barton of Cream fame who said that the secret to a good fly-poster was keeping things simple. The reason was that the message would be unambiguous and then be reinforced by subsequent opportunities to see. Which is why for the past 18 years or so Cream’s artwork is always a play on their triple tadpole logo.

Cream poster

This isn’t only about night club events. Think about Saatchi & Saatchi’s iconic Silk Cut adverts which were a giant visual pun that even the dullest mind could understand.

Silk Cut cigarette ad

Political posters if they articulate a message in a simple way can capture the electorate’s imagination. Saatchi & Saatchi crafted an iconic poster which did much to demolish the Labour government during the 1979 election.

conservatives 1979

Simple, effective and with a smart use of space reducing the opportunity for defacement or sabotage. Contrast this with the David Cameron ‘time for change’ poster which kicked off the Conservative campaign.

David Cameron time for change poster

And here is one of the politer parodies which appeared in no time at all.

David Cameron parody

However, it isn’t the Conservatives who are making such foolish errors. Labour’s Gene Hunt poster is just as bad. It was based on the idea that sending the UK back to the 1980s (by voting Conservative) would be a bad thing. So how do they personify this? They represent their rival as the tough-talking action-orientated anti-hero Gene Hunt of Ashes to Ashes – one of Britain’s best loved TV characters. There is a considerable amount of visual dissonance for the average viewer between the picture of the poster and the message it was trying to deliver

David Cameron vs Gene Hunt

I only know for sure what the Labour party were trying to say because I saw the Milibrand brothers being interviewed on the news about it.

Gene Hunt vs David Cameron

And it gave something for the Conservatives something to riff off. I only hope whoever wins does a better job of managing the country than they have done of their marketing campaigns thus far!

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