That the Tories have money to burn is clear from the ads they plastered in several of the newspapers and on strategic ad sites yesterday. Ads are to some extent a matter of taste. They are also a matter of judgement. If I thought they were good, I would say so. Or at least, given how hard I find it to be nice about anything Tory, I would say they’re not bad. I can’t. They are crap.
For those who missed them, they were a full page picture of a rather gloomy Parliament at night-time, the middle of the great old building blacked out, and a dark blue, green, light blue three-strap slogan saying YEAR FOR CHANGE.
There is nothing on it to say it is an ad for the Tories, and I can hear now the discussion among the ad execs and the party strategists that led to it. ‘We need a teaser, something that just whets the appetitite for the big campaign to come.’ ‘People don’t like politics and politicians, so we need something that is pro-Tory but non-political.’ ‘The brand is change – popular. Not Tories – not popular. That has to come next.’ Yeah right.
There are two types of political ads and political admen. Those designed and determined to win awards. And those likely and desperate to shift votes. This one does neither.
When I showed it to a number of random people, despite the fact I am an evidently political source, not one person thought it was from the Tory Party. The most common response was that it was for (or rather against) global warming. One or two thought it was about MPs’ expenses. Greenpeace got a mention. So did the Olympics and the World Cup, Lloyds Bank, Barack Obama, the Green Party and the Lib Dems. One (admittedly the youngest) thought it was for (or by) Gordon Brown.
Others had literally no idea. It said nothing to them.That is because the prior branding work has not been done. If David Cameron’s press conferences and speeches had made more of an impact, the new Tory branding would have been more recognisable, and the public might have made a link.
But he has said so little of lasting substance that these hugely expensive ads are like drops of water falling wastefully into a dank pool.
The good news for Labour is that the Tories seem to think ‘time for a change’ is all they need.
When I heard last week they had taken out a stack of new adverts in the press, I had a little muse about what they might do.
With the kind of money they have, thanks to Belize billionaire backer Lord Ashcroft, I was expecting them to set out a background argument, either about Labour, or themselves, both if they had any sense.
But that would have meant agreeing on what to say. And there they have a problem. So best to say nothing. It means the approach seems to be ‘If you’ve got the money, waste it.’ Great slogan. Not.
PS spot on comments from Professor David Woods, chief adviser on London schools, on the uninformed prejudices of the chattering classes against State comprehensive schools.
Standards in State schools have risen, and I would argue that kids in State schools get a far more rounded education than those driven by parental angst and often ignorance to private schools.
A lot of this is about the way the media cover State schools. And that in turn is driven by the fact that a huge majority of key opinion formers send their own children to private schools, and present a distorted picture of what happens in them so as to justify their own decisions. As I have said before. And will say again from time to time no doubt.
I thought it was related to New Year’s Resolutions, maybe to stop drinking. Probably because I had a hangover.
I was in retailing for 15 years and totally agree re admen. They think they are artists. All we wanted was to tell people what we sold and how much we were selling it for. The arty ads never worked. The cut price offers did
We keep being promised the detailed new policies. Apparently Cameron is speaking today, so perhaps all will become clear. Somehow I doubt it. He is being found out. The only worry if it is too late and whether Labour have the ability to capitalise. Saw very little of it over the last few weeks
I emphatically agree, and an entertaining read as always Alastair.
Cameron’s failure to provide an answer to this political discontent is telling.
I had a small debate with a Conservative party member a week back, where he argued poll leads to (8 points at the time, if my memory serves me well) were a clear indicator of Labours losses. I argued, essentially, that if his arguments are fought through narrow margins in these snapshots of the electorate, is he not a bit worried?
Again, the Tory arrogance rose and the usual hyperbole flowed freely. It says a great deal more about the current opposition that they have a ‘waiting to rule’ sign hung up on the stable doors, and think they need little more than an Obamarite shadow campaign to win.
Let’s just hope the punters see it this way come election day.
Having tried to do a bad impersonation of Tony Blair in his attempt to resuscitate his party’s fortunes it seems that Cameron is now attempting a bad impersonation of Barack Obama’s election campaign.
Trouble is we heard all this last year from across the Atlantic.
If you’re going to impersonate somebody you better make sure you do a good job or your audience rapidly lose interest in the performance.
Trust me; I do this for a living.
Tory = yawn. Yesterday, the BBC news website reported a government advisory to have more sex if one can’t make it to the gym. They should have waited until after the holidays to release this, when people are less busy. The whole country would have received the news with glee.
Do people really think the Tories are going to tell them to have more sex? The Tories will tell them to abstain until marriage and then have missionary sex whilst they themselves indulge in the sickest fantasies in the thirteenth century dungeons of their moated castles.
I’m behind the party that promotes labours of love.
I have now read David Cameron´s “We can´t go on like this” speech mentioned. (It was held against the picture of the Houses of Parliament with the slogan “Year for Change”!) So I guess that the general election campaign has started in earnest.
Frightened by the voters´ response to deeper, faster cuts, the Tories have invented a progressive David Cameron with a message of optimism and hope. Cuts and austerity are now labelled as “responsible economic policy”.
The Conservatives are still holding to their main policies of localism and independence, even though it is highly unlikely that decentralisation of power and people taking more responsiblity for themselves would work in practise.
A year for change? But will it be for better or worse? Alistair Darling wrote in the Guardian that electing the Tories is a risk we should not take. There is light at the end of a tunnel, but if British public chooses the path offered by the Conservative Party the light will be that of an approaching train.
I haven’t seen the Tory ads yet but it sounds like they are doing what I’d hoped, a big brassy expensive campaign like the launch of a block-buster movie.
What I’d like to see for Labour is a campaign that is entirely about policy and people done in a very human fashion.
I would imagine for this simple posters that would have a picture of someone and a quote attributed to them alongside expressing a hope/thought/concern or whatever about their circumstances.
There could be a further sentence or two pointing out how Labour’s policies relate to this.
It is just a thought, I don’t in any way wish to try to teach grandma to suck eggs 🙂
How ’bout “Things can only get better”. That should sort it!
‘Year For Change’ ?
Translation: ‘Vote For Us But *Please* Dont Ask Us *Why* You Should’
Labour are burning loads of our money with crap ads about global warming at the moment. Drip, drip, drip.
The Labour “Time for a Change” posters in 1992 were beaten by the Tories “Labour’s Tax Bombshell” ads -claiming that Labour would cost people an extra £1000 plus a year if elected.
Labour needs to be on the right side of the slogans this year -and stress in the simplest terms possible -the costs of a Conservative victory to Joe Public. It would help back this up if there were more stimulus measures going straight into the pocket of voters -e.g from the proceeds of a windfall tax on the Energy companies.
Sorry, but even the league tables to which Tony Blair was in complete thrall show that private schools generally achieve better results than state schools. I’m not sure what you mean by a rounded education, but private schools offer more subjects, extra-curricular activities, school trips etc, etc. And by sending their children to private schools, parents ease the pressure on state schools, allowing for smaller class sizes and so on.
There is an argument about these schools giving children an unfair advantage, but trying to deter parents from sending their children to private schools will do nothing to raise the standards of state schools.
It is worth noting that the public schools do not do a huge lot better than state schools on average. They should be because many of the public schools are selecting the students most likely to do well.
I think that if the same children we distributed equally in the state schools then the state schools would do just as well as the public schools.
The state schools can offer a more rounded education because the children mix with a wider range of people.
Ref Islamic March Wootton Basset
I have tried to email 10 Downing Street but this service is currently out of action. Can I suggest that the Govt looks to pass a new law? -Inapproptiate
Behaviour on the part of individuals and groups?This Islamic March,and calling our troops the same as the Nazis(Radio 5 live this morning) is freedom of speech gone mad or being taken advantage of.We, the British people,and that includes British Muslims,should not be subjected to this reverse psychology from Mr Chowdery or anyone else that seeks to hurt feelings.
Thank you xxx
‘There is light at the end of a tunnel, but if British public chooses the path offered by the Conservative Party the light will be that of an approaching train.’
Which tunnel are you looking down ?, obviously not the one with ever increasing debt, rising unemployment, dead British troops, never ending lies and incompetence.
No one in their right mind would vote to have another Labour governement after this lot !!
Sadly ‘time for a change’ was all the National party (= Tories) needed here in NZ, and boy oh boy, are we paying for it now.
I’ve never been a Tory voter, in fact I typified everything about the New Labour Voter in the nineties but I have to say I thought that the ad (I also work in marketing) was quite good. It makes the point (change of government) without getting bogged down by actually having to say anything political. Another word for it might be hollow, but for many in the UK it will strike a note and provide a banner to rally to. The problem as you say is that people are bored of politics and cynical about politicians. As a marketer I would say that the best approach for Labour to counter this would be to stop looking at the bag and start looking at the product.
Nobody believes that a great statesman will walk forward in a Lloyd George or Churchillian manner and the pervading opinion amongst voters is that there are an awful lot of MPs who are no better than fraudsters. The mood is changing and the emperor has been declared to have no clothes. First party brave enough to truly harness that and not simply put a veneer of paint to cover up the old woodwork will surge forward with a sprint worthy of Usain Bolt. An interesting question that came up at a dinner party I was at was how long before technology becomes secure and reliable enough to make MPs superfluous and we govern ourselves through an Internet site. Every issue would require an X Factor type vote. Laughable at first but then it starts to get a bit more serious when you think what might happen to some of the issues and laws. Would apathy rule supreme or would it generate interest and give the word ‘citizen’ some meaning again?