After years of hiding behind the irrefutable truth of news, the time has come for me to voice my own opinion in these pages. And what better way to begin that journey than in the top slot, while Claire Beale continues Campaign’s assault on the US. Well, Lindsey Clay keeps saying us girls need to lean in, after all.
In the media section this week, we are promised a stonking year. Yet, with the tragedies in France last week and the slowing growth evident in both the IPA Bellwether Report and the Advertising Association figures on Tuesday, the outlook is more complicated than any sales patter might declare up front. Moreover, if the past couple of weeks are anything to go by, all of this will be framed/distorted by the general election.
But, way before we have reached the election’s starting line, many people have switched off (or turned something else on). It says something about the disillusionment in politics when, after the two main parties released their first ads of 2015, political journalists were the first people to convey their boredom. If those who have dedicated their lives to soaking up each claim and counter-claim every time a swamp needs draining can’t be bothered to keep up, what hope has the rest of the UK population got?
This should be a brilliant moment for the parties to turn to agencies for help. Who understands how to create interest, conversations and desire better than the shops that do it all the time? Yet, as Campaign went to press, the Tories still had not clarified their position, although they should do very soon. Labour has settled with a cut-and-shut job of interested people, but with Lucky Generals at the wheel, providing all the parts they can afford. The Liberal Democrats, in contrast, just want an agency to help them cling on to as many of their seats as they can.
Ukip has tended to use the Edinburgh-based Family, but as more of a production house and in a very low-profile way. In contrast, the Greens have been working collaboratively with Creature since last year. The results so far have included a funny party political broadcast for the European elections and the brilliant line "For the common good", which is brimming with insight.
And that’s all quite separate from the issue of getting people working in advertising to support policies. In two weeks’ time at the AA’s Lead conference, the industry will hear from Labour’s rising star Stella Creasy. There will also be the obligatory political panel featuring the former culture secretary Maria Miller; the deputy leader of the House of Commons, Tom Brake; and the shadow arts minister, Chris Bryant.
Let’s hope they do a better job than Helen Goodman did in 2014. After all, they are unlikely to do any worse.