Powell downplays power of ads in elections

Advertising has a marginal impact on general election campaigns, Chris Powell, chief executive of Labour’s agency, BMP DDB, told a fringe meeting at this week’s Labour party conference.

Advertising has a marginal impact on general election campaigns,

Chris Powell, chief executive of Labour’s agency, BMP DDB, told a fringe

meeting at this week’s Labour party conference.



Powell told delegates to the Blackpool conference that elections were

won and lost by ’real events’, such as Britain’s ejection from the

European exchange rate mechanism in 1992 and Tony Blair becoming the

Labour leader in 1994.



He criticised admen for claiming the credit for election victories.

’There has been too much hype, with people running around trumpeting

their success,’ he said.



Powell told the meeting, which was held on Tuesday and organised by the

Advertising Association and the Fabian Society, that it was ’reassuring’

to discover that advertising only played a role at the margins.



He cited BMP research into last year’s election campaign, which found

that 87 per cent of voters intending to defect from the Tories to Labour

saw BMP’s ’enough is enough’ slogan as relevant and true, with only 2

per cent backing M&C Saatchi’s ’New Labour, new danger’ theme.



Powell supported the curbs on election campaign budgets that are

expected to be proposed next month by the Neill Committee on standards

in public life. He predicted that last year’s total pounds 30 million

adspend would never be repeated as the ’arms race’ between the parties

has come to an end.



David Hill, a director of Bell Pottinger and Labour’s former director of

communications, who also spoke at the meeting, agreed that election

campaigns seldom made a difference to the result. But he added that

advertising could play a part of a coherent strategy in the years before

an election.



Lord Saatchi, whose agency was dumped by the Tories after an acrimonious

campaign last year, will host the AA’s reception during next week’s

Conservative party conference in Bournemouth.



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