Whatever the Tories are paying M&C Saatchi, their new ad agency, it’s too much. The set of five posters launched today are a waste of money. Here’s why:
1 – Posters don’t work. Never did. Never will.
Posters have an impact on voting behaviour ranging from limited to zero. Imagine if posters actually altered people’s minds about anything, never mind how to vote. We’d be a nation of morons. This is an election about big issues, and above all the economy. That’s why Labour has launched its five pledges, with some real meat behind each slogan, to clarify the big choices ahead of us on 6th May.
2 – Personal attacks make you look bad.
By focussing on Gordon Brown, and especially the sarcastic public school tone, it looks like the ‘nasty party’ is back with a vengeance. This election isn’t about whether you like Gordon Brown or not. It’s not political X Factor. The Tory focus groups are telling Cameron that swing voters don’t like Gordon Brown, but so what? People didn’t like Thatcher either, and they kept on voting for her because they thought she was the safest bet in turbulent times. The election is about who has the best policies to protect your job, mortgage and services, not the price of gold a decade ago. If anything, Cameron’s bullying tactics may generate some sympathy for Brown.
3 – Going negative makes you look desperate.
The Tories are rattled, and this campaign proves it. The switch in Tory ad agency this close to an election is a sign of panic. The bombastic, humourless tone of these posters shows desperation at the heart of the Tory campaign. They’ve tried everything (except fundamentally changing themselves), and still can’t maintain a lead in the polls which would translate into a victory. It’s a wobbly weekend for the Tories. The last resort is negative attacks. In the absence of a convincing policy agenda, that’s all that’s left in the locker.
4 – Posters are analogue campaigning in the digital age.
If the medium is the message, these posters are telling us that the Tories have more money than sense, that they’ve run out of imagination, and that they believe polluting the high streets in 800 locations is what the public wants. Have they learnt nothing from mydavidcameron.com? You used to have to have a step ladder and a can of spray paint to deface a Tory poster. Now, your poster can be sabotaged, satirised and subverted within seconds, and viewed by millions online.
5 – Is it a Labour poster? Hard to tell…
Fifth and final reason why these posters fail: because they can be read as Labour posters. Too many words. Too clever by half. A commuter tomorrow morning flashing past a big picture of Gordon Brown smiling, with the slogan ‘vote for me’ is more likely to assume it’s a (albeit not very good) Labour poster. Advertising relies on simplicity. Like jokes, if you have to explain adverts, they’ve failed.
Picture: Tom Freeman: Freemania.