A party’s choice of advertising agency has been held to have some influence on UK General Elections for over 30 years – since Saatchi and Saatchi came on board to help Margaret Thatcher into 10 Downing Street back in 1979. And parties generally stick with one agency throughout any given campaign – well, until last week, at least.
That same Tory Party had been using agency Euro RSCG, under whose aegis the much derided and defaced (but not airbrushed, honest) posters of Young Dave were dreamed up. But now Cameron has turned to M&C Saatchi (no relation nowadays to S&S) in what is being seen as an admission that events are not turning out as expected.
So what? Well, the first effort from the new old boy shows that the base instinct for negative campaigning has won out for now: Pa Broon is the target in another round of predictable knocking copy, something I looked at recently. Not that negative campaigning is a less than legitimate weapon: all parties do it, and oppositions manage to run entire by-election campaigns on it.
But we are no longer in mid-term, and so turning a campaign negative so soon risks the predictable counter: folks will take on board the knocking copy, but will then ask what the negative campaigners are offering that is positive, different, and new. What, they may ask, of the Tory C-word – what happened to the positive projection of “Change”?
In other words, there is a real risk of mixing up the message merely to satisfy those who want to kick Brown. Someone seems to have forgotten what happened when the Super Soaraway Currant Bun laid into him over a handwritten letter to a dead soldier’s mother, and it backfired on them.