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Adland clichés cannot rival those at Westminster

There's an ad currently on TV that probably tells you rather more about the popular perception of the advertising industry than it does of the brand it is promoting. In fact, I can't remember the name of the advertiser or the sector it's in (it's that good) but, given that the spot is only on during the day and is so cheaply produced, I think it's for a high-interest payday loan or an ambulance-chasing insurance company. It matters not.

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Anyway, it features a cast of characters in an imaginary ad agency, brainstorming ideas for a new campaign for the very brand that it is advertising. As an example of deconstruction, there might just be a kernel of an idea in there if it wasn’t so badly executed. But what’s particularly striking is that one member of the cast – who is probably meant to be the creative director or boss – is wearing a rather flamboyant scarf, presumably to denote his rank in advertising’s elite, much like a field marshal wields a baton. It makes me smirk, although I doubt this small piece of wardrobe was meant to provoke such a reaction.

I mention this because, in less than 12 months’ time, we may have a new government and the electioneering campaign has started to heat up, guaranteeing acres of press coverage with clichés of their own.

As someone who finds it hard to get moved by political advertising, the Labour Party spot is amusing enough

Lucky Generals’ recent B-movie-style film for the Labour Party, "the uncredible shrinking man", doesn’t seem to have been the success that it had probably hoped for. While the ad’s condemnation by the right-wing political writer Paul Staines (aka Guido Fawkes) on the basis of it being an example of class warfare and policy-lite was predictable, he joined voices that included the left-wing journalist Owen Jones, who criticised its negative stance. Personally, as someone who finds it hard to get moved by political advertising, it was amusing enough, and Lucky Generals deserves some credit for just about raising a faint smile (although its "Easter Clegg" stunt was rather funnier).

And, much like the man in the unmemorable ad with the camp scarf, Staines in his weekend Sun column used the predictable words "trendy ad agency" to describe Lucky Generals, which will presumably provoke a snigger of its own from the seasoned Helen Calcraft, Andy Nairn and Danny Brooke-Taylor.

However, one agency that is unlikely to ever have that epithet applied to it is Family, which is working with UKIP on a piece of political advertising so negative that, if you believed it, you’d never leave the house. Family is less willing to shout about its role in the campaign but, given that it has also worked with the Scottish National Party and the Scottish Conservatives, it’s just pounds in its pockets. Which, come to think of it, is the name of that TV ad.

jeremy.lee@haymarket.com
@jezzalee

This article was first published on campaignlive.co.uk

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