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
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.