The Conservative and Labour parties are planning to spend the bulk of
their ad budgets on poster rather than press campaigns in the run-up to
the general election.
Strategists in both main parties believe that the Tories’ switch away
from press to posters during the 1992 election campaign marked the start
of a trend that will continue at the next election.
In 1992, the Conservatives spent pounds 1.5 million on posters and
pounds 1.1 million on press work, while Labour spent pounds 500,000 and
pounds 1.9 million respectively.
A Labour source said: ‘We will spend much more on posters this time.
They work harder than newspaper ads.’
The Tories’ strategy will be evident in the next two weeks, when they
unveil a pounds 1 million campaign at about 1,500 sites with only a
token back-up effort in the national press.
The push will be the start of a two-pronged strategy recommended by
Maurice Saatchi, under which the Tories will seek to rebuild their
economic credentials before moving on to attack Labour (Campaign, 22
John Major personally approved the forthcoming ads by M&C Saatchi, which
will admit that Britons have been ‘hurt’ by the Government’s tough
economic decisions. But they will assert that the policies have worked.
A Tory official said: ‘We are not saying we are sorry because the
policies were a mistake. But we are sorry that the necessary medicine
caused some pain.’
With Major hoping to delay the election for another year, the pounds 1
million push is a big spend and reflects an improvement in Tory
finances. It is likely to be followed by anti-Labour advertising this
Tory strategists also believe that posters offer better value for money
than press. One said: ‘We want a heavy presence and they allow us to
reach out to the natural supporters we need to win back.’
The Tories plan to spend at least pounds 5 million on ads at the
election. Labour, which has a budget of pounds 2 million, is holding its
main fire until the election is called.