Thank God it’s over. This dreariest of election campaigns was
epitomised by ridiculous sideshows such as ’the Labour Party has a war
book - shock, horror!’
The respective advertising campaigns have done little to relieve the
general feeling of torpor.
What will we remember? For the Tories, there was ’demon eyes’,
obviously, although it preceded the campaign proper. And then Tony Blair
on Helmut Kohl’s knee and the ’boy Blair’ idea. Funnily enough, they’re
the most negative of the Tory ads, but it’s a sad truth that negative
ads get noticed, particularly when they contain such a simple concept.
Contrast this with the crying British lion, again about Europe, and the
point is obvious. The Tories’ campaign suffered from a surfeit of
clients sticking an oar in and distilling the impact of the work.
The whole tenor of Labour’s campaign has been ’don’t mess up’. Caution
has strangled the potential of its partnership with BMP DDB. Some in the
party believed the election was not about sleaze or any other issue, but
tax. Unable to convince the electorate that it could be entirely trusted
on the issue, Labour has set out to tar the Tories with the same brush.
’Twenty-two Tory tax rises’ and the ’two faces of John Major’ stand out.
But there were too many anodyne executions like ’five pledges’.
There have been too many ads, full stop. They’ve blurred into an
indistinguishable mass. Who owns ’boom or gloom’ or ’Britain deserves
better’? With the benefit of hindsight, we may need to re-evaluate the
use of national press ads during elections. Has any one press ad broken
through? The Referendum Party’s weight of spend has only served to
compound the overkill.
Some thoughts for next time: do the parties really need to spend as much
money? A politician’s gaffe will always top the news agenda over any ad.
But the biggest lesson of all is that there’s no point in hiring top
talent if you end up writing the ads yourself.