CREATIVE STRATEGY - Could DM be a vote-winner?
If only MPs had put as much imagination into their campaign marketing as their expenses claims and Mad Cap'n Tom's manifesto, sighs Simon Kershaw.
Lib Dem mailing
As I write this, Britain still does not have its new elected Government. And given the quality, or rather total lack of it, in the main parties' campaigns, it's hardly surprising that the electorate didn't give any one party a majority.
If MPs had put as much imagination and effort into their ads as they did into their expenses claims, then the creative would win the majority of votes at awards' juries. As it is, only the Liberal Democrats' "Labservative" concept came close to a genuinely campaignable idea.
A close-run election result was widely predicted - one where individuals in many constituencies would need courting, not just swing voters in key marginals.
So I can't have been the only one who thought 2010 would be the year when politicians fully exploited the potential for targeting, engagement and dialogue that comes with direct mail, email and social media. After all, commentators agreed that Mr. Obama's victory was partly down to the Democrats' sophisticated use of such tools.
Did you see any modern, memorable marketing in your constituency? In SW19, we had the same old fare: piles of generic leaflets.
Nationally, of course, we were treated to a random series of conventional and digital posters not one of which had the cut-through of "Labour isn't working".
Meanwhile, on Facebook and at hustings in London, we enjoyed a swashbuckling campaign from an independent candidate, the "pirate" Mad Cap'n Tom.
Admittedly, his charm and wit did not translate into many votes. But you have to admire the brevity and clarity of his manifesto - www.madcapntom.co.uk.
With 6 May almost upon us, I finally saw something of interest from one of the main parties. A direct mailing from our Lib Dem candidate.
I've never been a fan of the faux-handwritten mailer, but on this occasion it seemed appropriate, reflecting a personalised and personal appeal from a locally-based politician.
A simple envelope and letter with nothing to distract from some intelligently written copy.
No wacky graphics. No glossy leaflets. No cheesy photos.
There is a lesson here. In its modest way, the mailing recalled the simplicity and humanity of the leaders' debates on TV... three politicians answering questions from a live audience, direct, spin-free, unmediated. This long-overdue initiative was just what we needed to reinvigorate our interest in British politics.
Simon S Kershaw is a creative consultant and a former creative director at Craik Jones.
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