It’s well documented just how much of a game changer The Tories’ 1978 ‘Labour Isn’t Working’ poster was, inspiring a golden age of political advertising in which competing parties would spend fortunes securing the most sought after high street spots for their billboard creations.
However, this format of campaign advertising is very much in the past, with political parties now taking their fight to social media and the digital landscape.
In this strange new world parties are able to respond to their opponents attacks in a matter of minutes. The result is a real-time digital conversation between competing parties as opposed to a drawn out exchange of intermittent traditional media bombs.
While this allows good content to spread like wildfire, the two-way nature of social media also means that the parties’ advertising efforts are scrutinised like never before; where and when they fall short is now made abundantly clear to them.
This year’s election campaign has been somewhat of a learning curve for the UK’s politicians, with most taking their baby steps in the world of digital advertising. From knock-off video mashups to teen infatuation, here are some of the highs and lows of the past few months.
1. Nick Clegg Uptown Funk:
Undoubtedly one of the worst attempts at appealing to the youth we have ever seen, this poorly produced video mashup completely missed the mark. As suggested by the original Cassetteboy: “It’s the political equivalent of dad dancing, isn’t it?”
2. Green Party Change The Tune:
The Green Party’s weird and wonderful boyband video of the four main party leaders is so far the only piece of digital content to go viral this election, reaching almost 850,000 views on YouTube. It gave a welcome break from the incessant barrage of social media with party policy, but unfortunately hasn’t been followed up with any more meaningful content from the Green Party.
3. #RoadToRuin campaign:
It’s fair to say the Conservative’s first effort of 2015 didn’t quite get the reception they were looking for. False claims about the party’s economic performance in their ‘road to a stronger economy’ ad inspired a wave of photoshop-driven protest, with some of the best pieces of satire making it into The Drum.
Not strictly a piece of party advertising but a good example of the power of social media in determining political consensus. Started by a 17 year old confessing her love for the Labour leader on Twitter, the ‘Milifandom’ hashtag has now been used over 25,000 times and inspired a mass of young labour supporters.
Whether or not all this digital content will have a significant impact on the ballot box remains to be seen. However, what can be said with certainty is that social media is now an integral channel for the UK’s political discourse.