Labour continues to turn away from ads as Experian called in

LONDON - As the Labour Party faces electoral defeat in Scotland on May 3, it is looking ahead to the next election with the building of a new direct marketing database and has appointed Experian to design, build and manage it.

The system will enable the party to communicate with voters on a national and local level by managing permission-based email and direct mail campaigns.

The commissioning of the new database accentuates the political parties' shift towards below-the-line activity, which they are favouring over above-the-line media for cost effectiveness and sophistication.

Last month, the main political parties were reported to be ending their traditional billboard blitzes in the run up to general elections after they were dismissed as a waste of money by a government-ordered inquiry.

In the elections for the Scottish Parliament on May 3, the Scottish National Party is using new-media techniques, such as YouTube, to engage with disenfranchised non-voters ahead of the Holyrood elections in May. Regular broadcasts have been created by Golley Slater.

Despite campaigning efforts by Prime Minister Tony Blair and Chancellor Gordon Brown, Labour faces losing control in Scotland to the nationalists, which are set to become the largest party.

Alicia Kennedy, deputy general secretary of the Labour Party, said: "We will be better than ever to ensure that we talk to people about the issues that matter to them, act on their concerns and better represent them."

Labour began using database marketing in 2000 and heavily relied on it during its 2005 election campaign.

The Conservative Party also upped its use of direct mail and door drops in 2005. In the first two months of 2005, it spent 35% of its budget on the medium compare with the same period in 2001, the year of the previous election.

The Experian system will be called Contact Creator and according to Duncan Painter, managing director of Experian Integrated Marketing, will allow the party to benefit from Experian's work with the UK's biggest and most innovative organisations.