Tag Archives: Campaiging

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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Alternative vote – alternative campaign ideas

9 Jan

The Independent has got some high-profile marketeers together to mock-up some posters on behalf of the yes and no camps.

There are some pretty interesting and exciting examples and I’m sure there are quite a few that the different sides would have liked to have come up with themselves.

In particular, I like the “Vote for Change? Apparently Not” and the “No MP’s seat should  be safe”.

Both give a clear message to a complicated issue. The Winston Churchill poster is good, but as you can see from Sunder Kawala’s post, there are a few historical issues, but I don’t know if the public would recognise these. I also see his point that the vote for change poster would never be branded Lib-Dem, but there is nothing to say the Yes Campaign couldn’t attack Cameron, much as the No campaign could attack Clegg. In fact, if they don’t I’d be surprised – coalition or not.

The other posters are too complicated I feel. I think, if a member of the public has to think about an ad, it isn’t a good one.

I do give a well done for trying award to the “don’t waste your vote” poster, but I think the lines should be swapped around. The statement surrounding wasting your vote should be on top with bigger writing to go with the image and perhaps the line saying shouldn’t every vote count should be embedded on the side.

Progressive Campaigning – the re-launch!

9 Jan

You may have noticed I have changed the focus, look and feel of the site this morning. This is part of my 2010 aim to get back into blogging. I was looking at my posts and the old naff name didn’t go anywhere near capturing the theme that had started to appear.

I am a progressive PR, comms strategist and campaigner and that is where my interests and skills lie. Occasionally I typed out a piece that wasn’t comms based (and I still will), but I thought I should refocus the blog to talk about what I know and what I’m good at. I think this way, I’ll be able to enjoy it more and will be able to incorporate pieces from my normal life – which ensures I’ll blog more.

So, I hope you enjoy the feel of the new site and I look forward to your comments.

Hustings in Tooting

29 Apr

Last night I had the pleasure to go to a Hustings in Tooting in the lead-up to the election on the 6th of May.

In my mind, there was only one winner, Sadiq Khan. Sadiq spoke passionately and authoritatively on issues that local Tooting residents face everyday. Affordable high-quality university places; protecting our economy from double dip recession; protection for developing world communities and our own shores from the threat of  devastating climate change; sweeping voting reform to get rid of the first past the post system that is clearly flawed; and importantly for me on a personal level, a real and understanding answer on immigration.

Sadiq put all of his points in the context of Tooting, how these issues will affect us as residents.  Sadiq outlined how he and Labour have worked to ensure Tooting is a great place to live. This has resulted in lower unemployment, better schools and a vastly improved St George’s Hospital. As he said in his opening address, as a Tooting boy born and bred, he “walks in our shoes”, so by using the same services and amenities as the rest of us, he understands what issues are important to we residents.

The other candidates ranged from the slick to the all over the place.  The UKIP representative was the consummate stereotype of his party, anti-Europe, pro public service cuts, anti-climate change. The Green candidate was very amusing and thoughtful in his answers, many of which I support and applaud, but he will be the first to admit he has no chance under the first-past-the-post system, something Labour is going to change if they get back in and the public choose the Alternative Vote Plus system in a referendum. The Independent seems passionate on her issues, but again can’t win because of the electoral system. The Lib-Dem didn’t get the support that the Clegg bounce would have assured him and Mr Clarke of the Conservatives was slick, but his points were straight from the Tory manifesto, rather than focusing on Tooting issues. Sadiq has proven himself to be a MP who will fight for Tooting residents and I don’t know if we would get that to the same extent from any other candidate.

I also question the debate format. There was no real opportunity for acutal debate or rebuttal. Each speaker had two minutes to make his point and move on, thereby leaving no time for rebuttal or proper discussion.

All-in-all it was a fascinating night and it raised many questions about the viability about many of the candidates in my mind.

The Conservatives are being targeted like an incumbent Government

9 Apr

Labour, the Lib-Dems and now the SNP all have at least one thing in common, they all seem to have the Tories directly in their crosshairs as the Tories seem to be under the most scrutiny and attack so far in the election campaign.

Of course none of this is a shock, it is only natural for the parties to have a go at each other, but what is striking about the attacks on the Tories is that it would normally be reserved for an incumbent Government, rather than the Opposition. The Tories are obviously the bookies favourite to win the most seats, at the very least the largest number in a Hung Parliament, so they are seen as the biggest threat by all of the parties.

Labour is obviously going after the Tories on everything as their prime competition. The Lib-Dems are trying to impress themselves onto voters as the eligible kingmakers whilst protecting their own seats which is evidenced most recently by Nick Clegg launching a “VAT Bombshell” poster campaign focusing on the Tory tax scheme. Alex Salmond is also trying to scare voters away from voting Tory in Scotland by running with a line that the Tories will go on a “smash-and-grab” spree by reviewing £1billion worth of funding to Scotland.

The latest Lib-Dem attack on the Conservative tax strategy

Of all of the parties, this probably benefits Labour the most as a lot of the “attack-dog” work they would normally have to do is being done by the smaller parties on a far more targeted level than the Labour election war chest would normally allow. The Tories therefore have to spend more time defending their policies and ideas on a national scale as well as batting away attacks on a more geographically targeted scale. Labour, while still needing to point out their perceived flaws in Conservative policy has more of an opportunity to sell in their policies.

Whether this will make a huge difference on Election Day, we will only know on May 7 but what is sure is the Tories would like more scrutiny on Labour, rather than being almost constantly defending their own policies and agenda. Labour would therefore be enjoying the underdog status and it is well-known this is a position where Brown feels very comfortable.

Cross posted with my personal blog.

Campaign ads – the best and worst. Part two – political ads

12 Feb

This is the follow up post to the advocacy ads blog I posted yesterday.

The vast majority of these ads are from the USA and generally from Republicans. Like them or loathe them, they do campaigning very well, especially during the Karl Rove era.

First up however is one of Obama’s ads. He never created “great” ads, but a good deal of his involved just him, speaking directly into camera to the audience. This has the benefit of giving a personal message and engaging directly with the viewer. In this ad, he also personalises the story of his mother’s death and the extra pain of her death due to the insurance system in the US. He then brings that story back to the personal lives of everyday Americans which is vital for a successful visual engagement strategy.

If only he was still showing this ad in the last 6 months.

This Carly Fiorina ad is bizarre. Named the Demon Sheep ad, it has become the object of ridicule but also fascination. It is weird and out there and I guess that is its charm. I don’t think it will work, it’s too long, appeals to a fairly small part of the population (the Tea Party) and most importantly, it doesn’t actually target the candidate that is leading the race. This is an attack ad for a spot of the Republican California Senator ticket. Fiorina attacks Tom Campbell, who is a leading member of Governor Arnie’s Cabinet. They are both losing ground to Republican Chuck De Vore, a State Assemblyman who is know for his ultra conservative stance. No wonder she was rated as one of the US’s top 20 worst ever CEOs.

George Bush Senior’s attack ad on Michael Dukakis is one of the most infamous ever. Drew Westen describes it as “one of the low points in American electoral history.” Willie Horton was a felon of the worst order and whatever happened for him to be released was clearly a mistake. The ad however has become part of history. Using emotive, almost subliminal written messaging such as Rape, Kidnap, Stab, stuck in the heads of the public. Fear is everywhere in this ad, the frightening statements, the scary mugshot, the fact that you could be the person stabbed, kidnapped and raped under a Dukakis Government. It is enough to frighten anyone. In fact, this ad wasn’t even an “official” Bush Campaign ad. It was made by the Americans for Bush arm of the National Security Political Action Committee (NSPAC).

Willie by the way wasn’t his real name, he went by William, but that’s not as scary either.

Hilary Clinton’s 3am ad made a big difference during the 2008 primaries and was one of the reasons why she stayed in the race so long. Questioning Obama’s ability and experience, she came up with a pretty powerful and effective ad. It preyed on the fears of parents and grandparents alike. It gave her a good boost in the polls, but let’s face it, the rest is history

Gough Whitlam was the Australian Labor Prime Minster from 72-75 after 23 years of Liberal-Country Government, mostly under Sir Robert Menzies. This ad may seem a tad naff now, but at the time, the ad and the slogan “It’s Time” was hugely influential. Delightfully simple, the slogan simply pointed at the last quarter of a century under a Conservative Government, similar to the Change slogan used by the Obama campaign. No one over in the UK would realise, but the singers are all Australian celebrities and politicians. Australian’s might notice a young Jack Thompson, Jackie Weaver, Graham Kennedy and Bert Newton singing away. Whitlam however only lasted 3 years before he was controversially sacked by the Governor General Sir William Kerr. Whitlam, on the stairs of Parliament House then made the statement “God Save the Queen, because nothing will save the Governor General.” Thus started the first big push for an Australian Republic.

Ronald Reagan put this ad out for his re-election campaign in 1984 and it is brilliantly simple. Patriotic, conservative and a vision back to the halcyon days of America. He doesn’t even appear or speak in it, but at the same time he seems both Presidential and grandfatherly.

Just like his father, Bush Junior wasn’t officially behind this ad, but it was paid for by the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth. There were plenty of memorable negative ads that hit Kerry hard, but this was particularly effective. Kerry made a big deal out of his Vietnam veteran status saying in a time of war, it was important to have a Commander and Chief who had proper military experience. Kerry won two Purple Hearts and one Silver Star for his heroism, but there were controversial circumstances surrounding this award and this came to the fore in the 2004 Presidential campaign. Kerry also immediately came back to the US post the war and began protesting against it. His initial campaign strategy was to portray him as a war hero, but not long after, these swift boat vets came out and hit Kerry hard. Again, the rest is history