OPINION: MILLS ON ... WORKING FOR THE TORIES

Years ago, when I was more trusting than I am now, a colleague would offer me writing or editing work on the side. ’The thing is, Dominic,’ he would say, ’I want someone who’s really hungry to do this.’

Years ago, when I was more trusting than I am now, a colleague

would offer me writing or editing work on the side. ’The thing is,

Dominic,’ he would say, ’I want someone who’s really hungry to do

this.’



What he meant was that he was a skinflint and didn’t want to pay me

anything - only I was at first too gullible to realise this. My old mate

came to mind when I read a quote in last week’s Campaign story about the

Conservative Party looking for agencies that were ’young and

hungry’.



Ordinarily, when potential clients talk like this agencies should

proceed with extreme caution. Indeed, only last week the Tories’ DM

agency, Claydon Heeley, decided it was neither young enough nor hungry

enough to continue to work for the party - not the first time an agency

has felt this way about the Tories.



News therefore that the Tories are looking for a new agency might sound

like a joke. After all, what agency would choose to work with a client

that a) has no money b) is hopelessly riven by internal dissension c)

doesn’t seem to know what its policies are d) admits privately it has no

chance of winning the next election and e) might change its ’chief

executive’, not to mention its ’marketing director’, before it achieves

any success? Yes, the phrase’lost cause’ springs to mind.



The Tories may be a lost cause for now, but that doesn’t mean the

account is. Let’s start by drawing a parallel with the Tories’

appointment of Saatchi & Saatchi in 1978. Then, hard as it may be now to

credit, there were those in the Labour Party who thought Margaret

Thatcher was their secret weapon. The task looked about as hopeless as

it does now. But even before the 1979 election victory, the appointment

put Saatchis on the map both in terms of client awareness and the wider

public. Thereafter, their fortunes rose in tandem to undreamed-of highs

(and fell, it must also be said - but that’s another story).



It may be fanciful to suggest that history will repeat itself with

William Hague - but it’s probably a chance worth taking. However, I

don’t think it’s fanciful to suggest that there are other benefits to be

had from working on a political campaign.



The first of these is the opportunity to do ground-breaking work (all

the easier when you’re doing it for the Opposition) that gets the

agency’s name about. Unlike other ads, political campaigns are the

subject of close media scrutiny and an astute agency can gain a lot of

PR mileage. Second, there is nothing better to test an agency’s mettle

than the pressure and fast-turnaround times of an election campaign.

Survive that and you can survive anything. I’d bet that those early

experiences with the Tories played a large part in building the ’nothing

is impossible’ spirit at Saatchis.



So there you have it. Work for Tories and you may not be rich - but your

agency will be famous and probably a damn sight better for the

experience.



Sounds like a good case of mutual exploitation to me.



Topics

Become a member of Campaign from just £46 a quarter

Get the very latest news and insight from Campaign with unrestricted access to campaignlive.co.uk plus get exclusive discounts to Campaign events

Looking for a new job?

Get the latest creative jobs in advertising, media, marketing and digital delivered directly to your inbox each day.

Create an Alert Now

Partner content

Share

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).