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So, Mitt Romney just bored his way to a loss

12 Apr

So, campaigning for the 2012 US Presidential Election has finally begun. I love this time of the election cycle, where we can review ads, dissect them and work out who is going to do well and place bets on who will be the first to sack their campaign staff.

Mitt Romney has just formally announced his candidacy by affirmed his reputation as captain boring as  he introduces himself in a two minute chat about what he did last week. What is strange about this kind of introductory film is that it’s not as though people don’t know who Mitt Romney is. He was a serious candidate to be the 2008 Republican Nominee; he was Governor of Minnesota Massachusetss; he has been listed as a potential 2012 candidate since Obama’s win. So why does he need to introduce himself this way? He should remind people of his points of view and convictions, especially when he has been tarnished in the eyes of the Right by his version of Obama Care and people are suspicious of his religion. He has to show his morals are the same as the next good right wing American’s and I don’t think he does here.

On the flip side of the coin, Tim Pawlenty (or T-Paw according to his website) clearly has employed Jonathan Demme to direct his campaign ads. I’d watch this movie, but I wouldn’t vote for the guy. It’s an interesting concept to use an attack ad to launch a Presidential candidacy, especially when Pawlenty is an unknown compared to Romney.  He should mix this, with Romney’s and he would have a much better ad.

I’ll review Obama’s ad in the next few days

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Abbott is making a mistake by going for Gillard

1 Apr

Australian Federal Opposition Leader Tony Abbott has gone on the attack by going after Deputy Prime Minister Julia Gillard after the Prime Minister Kevin Rudd made a mini-reshuffle to his Ministry.

Australian Deputy PM Julia Gillard

Abbott has claimed that Gillard is overworked and overstretched and should ha ve some of her many responsibilities taken off her. Gillard’s title is Deputy Prime Minister, Minister for Education, Employment & Workplace Relations, Social Inclusion but I have no doubt the Deputy Prime Minister is one of the few people  who could actually manage such a large portfolio.

This is the latest in a long-runnning war between Gillard and Abbott, but I think Abbott’s attacks are misplaced. For starters, he is shooting down, which is always a mistake for a Leader. We all remember the criticism of Obama when the Democrats went after Sarah Palin during the 2008 Presidential Campaign. Abbott should be going for Rudd and Rudd alone and letting the rest of his team go for Gillard.

They have also attacked Gillard before on a personal level and it back-fired badly. Earlier in the year, Gillard questioned Coalition

Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd

statements about parenting, when Senator Brandis stated Gillard couldn’t understand the way parents think” about virginity because she doesn’t have kids.”

While that didn’t hurt Abbott too much as he was still well into his honeymoon, there was a fair outcry as to the remarks.

Finally, the Australian people like Gillard. In an Essential Report poll from the 22nd of March, Gillard beat Abbott 47-37 as preferred Prime Minister. The people also don’t like Abbott when he is being overtly confrontational, as was

shown in the results of the recent Health Debate, which the Prime Minister clearly won.

Opposition Leader Tony Abbott

So Abbott has to decide if his strategies are right, because they’ve attacked Gillard before and it hasn’t worked. This is probably just a one-off attack to coincide with the PM’s mini-reshuffle, but the Coalition have to be wary.

Greenpeace takes on Nestle

20 Mar

Greenpeace has taken on Nestle’s KitKat to highlight the use of palm oil in the Nestle product. The harvesting of palm oil has devastated the rainforests in Borneo, which also happens to be the only natural home of the Orangutan.

It’s a heavy ad, very visually intense. What are your thoughts? It is certainly going to be interesting to see how Nestle reacts.

The new Lib-Dem slogan – so what does it mean?

12 Mar

The Lib-Dems have released their election slogan prior to their Spring Conference this weekend. They have decided on ‘Change That Works For You. Building A Fairer Britain.’

I have no idea what that means, but it is awfully similar to the Labour “A Future Fair for All” slogan and the Tory “Change for Britain” slogan.

Incidentally, the Conservatives barely make mention of their own slogan on the Tory website so either it doesn’t resonate with voters, or they aren’t comfortable with it themselves. They are also all over the place with smaller call-to-actions by using Year for Change, Vote for Change etc etc. Either way, a slogan is meant to capture the focus of a campaign, and I don’t think theirs does.

But, back to the point, essentially, the Lib-Dems have done what they do best and have sat in the middle.

From a communications point, my colleague and pod-mate Ged Carroll points out in PR Week that:

“Initial thoughts are that it’s not particularly memorable, only catchy in the way it could trip Lib Dem candidates up and doesn’t provide a clear brand proposition.”

Apart from the odd messaging, I don’t think two sentence slogans work, it doesn’t stick in your head and it could be seen as lacking a focus and confusing. A Future Fair for All is clear, Change for Britain is straightforward, but “Change That Works For You. Building A Fairer Britain” just seems all over the shop.

Anyway, we will see how it goes, I presume it was tested with focus groups, but it doesn’t seem to have the same sway as Yes We Can.

Why do all three leaders have an image problem?

15 Feb

In this age of 24 hour media, spin doctors, image consultants and press advisers, it really amazes me that all three leaders have a significant image problem.

Brown is seen as distant and struggles to connect with voters. Cameron, no matter how he tries, is still seen as a toff and  smarmy (mainly because he is, credit to the public where credit is due). Clegg simply doesn’t have an image.

I thought Brown’s interview with Piers Morgan last night was very good. He seemed relaxed, witty, real and engaging. I think that the interview will pay off and hopefully will show a increasing tightening in the polls. Brown didn’t seem like the distant professor but he seemed like an average everyday man, someone you might want to have a beer with.

However, Brown said something that dumbfounded me. It was in regards to the infamous YouTube video last year. Brown said that he asked his advisers should he have another go at it because he wasn’t happy with it, but his advisers said it was fine. I’m hoping, whoever that was, has been sufficiently rebuked because they failed at the number one priority of their job – to make their boss look good. I’ve written before that I thought Brown had been getting bad advice – clearly I was right.

But are all three getting such bad advice? The Cameron poster debacle make me think his marketing team is failing as well. Cameron asked in PMQs would Labour MPs want Brown’s face on their campaigning documents, but I think some Tories are probably distancing themselves from his image now too.

Clegg is struggling to get any spotlight at the moment, but when the media will be obliged to give the Lib-Dems some column inches during the campaign, I’m sure this will change, but not my much.

So, who’s fault is it, the advisers or the candidates?

Campaign ads – the best and the worst. Part one – advocacy ads

11 Feb

In response to the Robin Hood Tax ad, which is one of the best campaigning ads I have seen for a while, I thought I would post some historically very effective political and advocacy ads. I’m also currently reading The Political Brain, by Drew Westen that looks at the role of emotions in political campaigning. It has been an eye-opening read, so this also gave me some inspiration for this post.

This list is by no means definitive and if anyone wants to send links to some campaigning ads, that would be great, I’d love to watch them.

This post will focus on a few advocacy ads, starting with the Robin Hood Tax ad that has been the focus of the media of late. It is a very simple ad, two voices, one face but plenty of emotion. Bill Nighy plays a leading banker who ends up squirming in response to the questioning about why a Tobin Tax shouldn’t be created. Squirming bankers is something that reverberates with a good portion of the public at the moment. This campaign plays to the slightly divergent emotions of good will and revenge brilliantly.

This next ad scares the heck out of me, although I’m not sure how effective it is. Shock ads, as I have written before, have the tendency to decline in effectiveness over time simply because of people being desensitized. I’m not sure anyone would be able to put themselves in this guys shoes, unless they have been in the same situation.

This shock ad from PlaneStupid, the organisation that focuses on climate change issues caused by the global aviation industry, is different from the previous one however. Shocking – yes. Disturbing – definitely. Effective – most certainly. Polar bears dropping from the sky crushing cars and smashing into buildings may seem like an odd choice, but it is actually very clever. The stance is that every person on a trans-Atlantic flight creates 400kg of carbon. Most people can’t conceptualize what that means however. A polar bear, which is also an icon of climate change devastation, is imaginable. Therefore this appeals to our sense of wanting to save these animals, horror at their gruesome deaths but it also puts our carbon footprint into a physical and understandable context. It was filmed in Canada, but it could be any city, again personalising the imagery.

The final ad is one that has screened on UK screens recently and was the subject of a number of complaints, but is far more subtle that the polar bear ad. Act on CO2 is a non-departmental government body that is the public face of the Government’s climate change policy. This ad simply shows a father telling a bed-time story to his child, but it is a story of the effects of climate change and includes drowning pets and other disturbing results of unabated climate change. But this ad is clever in the fact that it appeals on a personal level to adults and children. This ad scares children, hence the complaints, but it also contextualizes climate change for them ensuring they understand the potential of doing nothing. It also will frighten adults on a parental level – how can I let my child live in a world like this, what can I do to prevent it?

As I said, this isn’t a complete list, but it just a tester. I’d love your thoughts and if you want to send me other campaigns, feel free. I’ll post the political ad blog in the next couple of days.

Cross posted with Ruder finn Dot Comms.

This example of advertising through shock tactics I like

9 Oct

By Nick Osborne

A couple of weeks ago, I questioned the wisdom behind a series of ads comparing HIV/AIDS to mass murderers such as Hitler, Stalin and Saddam and whether campaigns using shock tactics like this work.

nyc20ad

Well this week, the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (what exactly is mental hygiene by the way) has released this poster which has apparently come under some fire.

As you can see, it is an ad highlighting the danger of sugary drinks which are a significant contributor to obesity and other disease such as diabetes.

The fact is this ad is shocking, the marbled, blood vessel laden fat isn’t a particularly nice image, but unlike the HIV campaign, it doesn’t potentially vilify anyone and it could very well raise awareness of the issue. Maybe, this ad could work.

I would love to know your thoughts.