NEWS: Tories take honest tack in ad blitz

The Conservative Party this week fired the starting gun on what could be a year-long advertising war with Labour by unveiling a pounds 1 million campaign aimed at creating the elusive ‘feel-good factor’.

The Conservative Party this week fired the starting gun on what could be

a year-long advertising war with Labour by unveiling a pounds 1 million

campaign aimed at creating the elusive ‘feel-good factor’.



As Labour planned a tactical tit-for-tat response through BMP DDB, a row

broke out between the two parties over M&C Saatchi’s high-risk strategy

of admitting that the Government’s economic policies had hurt people.



‘Yes it hurt. Yes it worked’ is the slogan on about 1,500 poster sites

in the Tories’ four-week blitz. Poster buying is by Concord, and will be

backed by a low-key national press campaign.



There are four back-up lines: ‘Lowest mortgage rates for 30 years’,

‘lowest unemployment of any major European country’, ‘26 million people

have just had their income tax cut’ and ‘14 million savers pay less

tax’.



The main message is a deliberate echo of the tough statement John Major

made when he was Chancellor of the Exchequer in 1989: ‘If it isn’t

hurting, it isn’t working.’



The decision to recall the words indicates that the Tories intend to

fight a highly personal campaign built around Major, whose own opinion

poll ratings are higher than the party’s.



The campaign was devised by Maurice Saatchi, Sir Tim Bell - who advises

the Tories on their strategy - and the M&C Saatchi account manager,

Steve Hilton. They recommended an honest, direct approach and rejected

the idea that the ads would merely remind people of the Tories’ economic

record.



‘People don’t need reminding - we are reflecting what they feel and

there is no point in pretending they feel good,’ one Tory source said.

‘We have to acknowledge what has happened before they do.’



But Labour strategists claimed the Tories had made a ‘catastrophic

error’ by putting the spotlight on their economic mismanagement, and

predicted the campaign would backfire. ‘We are delighted they want to

draw attention to their economic record and all the pain it has caused,’

Labour’s deputy leader, John Prescot, said.



The Tories plan another pounds 1 million blitz attacking Labour this

summer. Labour’s advertising people are privately envious of the fact

that M&C Saatchi has been handed such large budgets up to a year before

the next general election.



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1 Job description: Digital marketing executive

Digital marketing executives oversee the online marketing strategy for their organisation. They plan and execute digital (including email) marketing campaigns and design, maintain and supply content for the organisation's website(s).