OPINION: Xenophobic Tories leave European networks cold

Client seeks ad agency with view to possible marriage. Young and sexy or long experienced in the art of seduction, it doesn’t matter. We just want to be loved again. Apply W. Hague, Conservative Central Office.

Client seeks ad agency with view to possible marriage. Young and

sexy or long experienced in the art of seduction, it doesn’t matter. We

just want to be loved again. Apply W. Hague, Conservative Central

Office.



Yes, the Tories are looking for somebody to make the earth move for them

again just as Maurice Saatchi and Tim Bell did two decades ago.



Time was when such news would have had suitors by the dozen beating on

the door of Smith Square. There will be less of them today. As a

product, the Conservative Party is something few consumers want to buy

with even its most ardent supporters privately admitting that it has no

hope of regaining power until 2006 at the earliest. The one-time market

leader now barely qualifies as a challenger brand.



Apart from its virulent anti-Europeanism, it has no distinguishing

policies.



And heaven knows what the public must have made of the repulsive

spectacle at last week’s party conference of batty old Margaret Thatcher

defending an evil dictator who allowed a litany of human rights offences

to be conducted in his name.



Yet it’s precisely because the Tories look like a bunch of no-hopers

that their account will have a perverse appeal to some agencies.

Political advertising is always an opportunity to push creative

boundaries to the extreme; even more so now that the Committee of

Advertising Practice is about to banish party ads from the

self-regulatory system.



But just as Saatchi & Saatchi was making its way in the ad world when it

landed the Tory account in the 70s, so it seems likely that a young and

hungry shop willing to do anything for a profile will be best suited to

help restore the party’s post-millennium fortunes.



Few large agencies will relish the prospect of committing to the

business with no guarantee of success and the risk of being made the

scapegoat for failure. And with the Labour Government having aligned

itself with big business, there’s the worry of upsetting other

clients.



The world has moved on since the Saatchi-inspired Camelot years of

Toryism.



While the party shuns Europe, agency networks try to exploit its

potential.



The party that once embraced the ad industry threatens to become

estranged from it through its own xenophobia.



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