Politics needs a brand makeover

Marco Bertozzi: 10.05.2010

Outdoor advertising during the elections has always been a little flippant. Although amusing at times, I feel more and more like my dad is trying to come up with jokes to be down with the kids or worse me making up jokes to be down with the kids. These Ads also give me the feeling that they think we don’t understand anything complicated. I can hear them now back at M&C ‘keep it simple lads, those white van men wont understand anything more than a picture and a one liner.’

They might be right but I feel like the Parties desperately need a brand beyond a logo and a strapline. With all the Parties doing tit for tat Ads and even using each others art work I had no idea who was behind which Ad. I think they need to stand for something but I also think there needs to be some visual triggers, some brand guidelines, do some targeting! The rest of the advertising community aim different Ads at different demographics, they target by media and channel, they make DR Ads different to their brand Ads but all in all they try to retain some key brand identities. It’s this I think has been missing.

Who can remember an Ad – if you were asked to describe one now, what would you say, you may remember Life on Mars but which party? That’s the challenge, I think the Party that could be remembered in the mind of the voter through their advertising may have the advantage – brand recall anyone, recency studies? These could all teach the parties something, it feels like it all gets thrown out during the campaign.

As well as differentiation between Parties being confused there is also the consistency within one party. A myriad of different leaflets, posters in different styles, no guidelines, it comes across disorganised, scrappy and in most cases pretty bland. I believe that more consistency in the advertising styles would make a Party stand out and be more memorable. Its fine for O2 with bubbles or Orange with orange but they have invested tens of millions over many years, they can afford to stray a little and try new things but these political parties have a short while and they need their advertising to stack up, right from the first leaflet to the largest 96+ sheet.

Lets face it their advertising does not work as we have ended up with a hung Parliament..next time act like a brand and see where you get to.

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2 thoughts on “Politics needs a brand makeover

  1. I’m sure this has been debated long and hard by the parties themselves, but there a few key differences. Unlike Mars Bars, they only really need to hard-sell every four years, so sustaining a credible voice would cost millions and achieve nothing. Second, they don’t need to sell as hard anyway, as they are courted by chat shows and newspapers who themselves represent different demographics and edit accordingly. The ‘billboards’ are faintly patronising, but that’s because they aren’t aimed at us. We read news, we watch news. We are able to intelligently dissect policy. Why would you want the parties better branded? Brands are a form of shorthand to allow quick trust. I don’t want people reading shorthand when picking the next ‘balanced’ collaborative government.

  2. Yes and No Mr Robinson. I dont expect longevity of branding but I would like a clearer positioning and messaging come the election. To your point about not picking a party based on branding, then perhaps one could argue the billboards are not the right medium, maybe media that allow one to learn more like print, online and transport media? I feel however thats not what the parties want, they want people to respond to a shit joke. As a staunch Green party supporter as I know you are, I think they spend more time explaining their policies because they have to?!

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