Monday 9 March 2015 9:33 pm

The art of politics: The nastiest, most memorable election posters

The first wave of snarky posters are in, meaning we can declare the 2015 election campaign  officially underway.

The Tories’ image of Ed Miliband peeking from the pocket of Alex Salmond has split opinion, some praising its clear message while others question whether the electorate is really all that bothered about the SNP. 
 


Be Afraid, Trevor Beattie, 2001

 


Labour Isn't Working,  Saatchi & Saatchi, 1979

 
“A good political poster has intellectual clarity and creative impact,” says Benedict Pringle, the ad man behind the  blog politicaladvertising.co.uk. “I think this is an incredibly impactful poster, certainly the best of the general election far.  Salmond’s smug look accompanied by Miliband’s sheepish pose combine to create a deeply provocative image.
 


New Labour, New Danger, M&C Saatchi, 1997

 
 “The best political posters provoke an angry reaction from the opposition and therefore increase the number of times the image is carried in the media.”
 


Hope, Shepard Fairey, 2008

 
British politics has a rich history of caustic political ads, from the 1979’s “Labour Isn’t Working” to Trevor Beattie’s “Be Afraid”, featuring William Hague with Margaret Thatcher’s hair. And while these nastier posters tend to be the ones that stick in your mind, it’s worth remembering that one of the most iconic political images ever made  – Obama’s “Hope” – conveyed a purely positive message. Even that, though, is tinged with negativity – the artist, Shepard Fairey, was sentenced to two years probation for destroying documents after Associated Press sued him for using one of their photographs as the basis of the piece without permission; a loss of hope perhaps comparable with Obama’s Presidency.
 


In the pocket, M&C Saatchi, 2015

 

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