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.

Shifting Direct marketing budgets make sexy social media just another channel.

Marco Bertozzi: 23:01:2010

Brand Republic released news of some research by Alterian that DM budgets are morphing into social media. Now to be clear, I have not seen the research so perhaps it will give me all the detail I am about to question but none the less, its still an interesting subject.

2/3 years ago every client wanted to know how to use social media in their advertising. They wanted to know how to have conversations with customers, how to turn dull into sexy, create millions of fans of car insurance and at the time, no one had an answer. Part of that was the reticence of clients, some of it was media agencies still getting their heads around it and some was actually the fact the very carriers of social audience, did not know what to do either.

While this lack of innovation continued the audiences on the likes of Facebook sky rocketed and advertising rates fell accordingly and that then opened up a huge opportunity for Direct Marketing, not one to one marketing but good old fashion buy it cheap and expect a low response rate type DM. Is this what all those advertisers that have shifted DM budgets into social media have done or have they done anything interesting, have they changed their approach or their channel? I suspect not, I imagine they have bought up vast amount of impressions, overlaid some targeting, just as they would with mail shots and they have accepted a very low response rate and carried on filling their order books. There is still so much room for genuine use of social media and that needs to come from their main brand budgets, not their backwater DM budgets.

Take a look at Compare the Market/Meerkat, everyone knows it, everyone has seen it, but that is a great example of a brave client taking the plunge to make themselves stand out from the competition. I can think of quite a few insurance companies who must be thinking, why were we not brave enough?