It is the holiday season, and every day another Christmas advertising campaign drops. But this year, a festive election is happening for the first time in 96 years — and whether we like it or not, it’s hanging over everything.
In no particular order, and with a pinch of non-partisan cynicism, here are some honest (and not so honest) highlights that we’ve seen from the campaigns. Some of them are bound for the naughty list, some for the nice list (although that doesn’t mean that they’re any good).
Momentum’s “policies are coming”
If you haven’t seen it — and you certainly won’t be able to now — Labour spoofed the classic 1995 Coca-Cola Christmas commercial, photoshopping its policies on the sides of the iconic red trucks.
An effective way to spread the news about the new manifesto, but unfortunately the video was up for just four hours before Coca-Cola issued a cease and desist notice and threatened to take legal action.
Personally, I don’t see why they didn’t just let Coke sue them and put the cost in the grey book.
Conservative Party or Factcheck Party?
During a televised leaders’ debate, the Conservative party’s CCHQ Press Twitter account changed its name and branding to FactcheckUK. This gave it the impression of being a non-partisan commentary on the debate, while posting positive Conservative messages and criticising Labour ones.
The anger it stirred up meant that CCHQ’s tweets received over eight million more impressions than Johnson and Corbyn’s accounts combined. Even Labour candidates shared Conservative messages, just by retweeting with their disapproval — a massive faux pas. But come on CCHQ, this isn’t a good look. Twitter branded the move as “inappropriate and misleading” — it sure was.
Liberal Democrats and those pesky graphs
The Lib Dems have been caught out after sharing some dodgy graphs on their social media and leaflets. One graph seemed to show that the Lib Dem candidate was close to taking the North East Somerset seat. But the small print showed they were asking a very particular and potentially misleading question. Naughty, naughty.
And it’s not the first time they’ve done this — BuzzFeed published an article in 2014 titled “15 deeply dubious Liberal Democrat graphs”.
Brexit Party’s Brexiteer newspaper
You might not have seen one of these unless you live in a key Brexit Party battleground, but Nigel Farage’s new political party has been sending out leaflets chock full of information about the campaign, and the fight for a “real” Brexit.
Seems harmless enough, and the design of these things is quite well put together — but why does it look like a newspaper? It’s not news. It’s electioneering. Though not quite rotten to the core, it is a tad naughty.
Greens go black and white
The Green Party’s election broadcast, titled “If not now, when?”, is a long way from 2016’s #GrownUpPolitics campaign which featured little Zac Goldsmith yelling at little Sadiq Khan in a children’s sandpit.
Filmed in black and white, it’s moody, dark, poetic, and hopelessly boring. At the time of writing this, it hasn’t even had 8000 hits on YouTube.
It’s a shame, because Green Party adverts are always different enough to stand out and get shared. The party is certainly trying to pick up the Extinction Rebellion vote with a more serious, black-and-white message, but I’m not sure the Greens will reach anyone outside of their echo chamber. Still, at least they’re playing by the rules.
Brexit Brexit Brexit
The look and feel of the Brexit Party’s broadcast is cinematic. It is formatted to super-wide cinemascope with a high production feel — which makes you wonder: how much did this one cost, and who’s paying for it?
That aside, its message is clearly targeted at Labour voters in Leave seats, and is probably too slow-paced to achieve any viral movement nationally — but I don’t think that’s what the Brexit Party was trying to do.
On your side
Labour is quite good at these. Its election broadcast “On your side” is shot in a TV-documentary style with plenty of personal stories and emotional moments — the sort of stuff political parties reach for when they’re advocating any sort of real change.
It’ll do rather well with the Labour core base, but you have to wonder why, of all the major party broadcasts, this one doesn’t mention Brexit.
Will that cost Labour? We’ll find out soon enough.
12 questions to Boris Johnson
The Conservative party’s election broadcast is a good example of how much things have changed at its HQ.
Gone are the images of hardhats and shaking hands, the emotional music and overwritten speech designed to hammer home key messages (cue Vietnam-style flashbacks of “Strong and stable”).
No. Here’s Boris making a cuppa, talking about walking the dog, fish and chips, Rolling Stones, and other classic, British, man-of-the-people type things.
It’s contrived, and a blatant rip off of Vogue’s 73 questions, but its effective — and probably brilliant.
The Jo Swinson Show
Jo Swinson is running. Running to be PM. The Lib Dems election broadcast, which features Swinson literally going out for a run, looks a little low budget — and in some places, it’s a little cringe. It probably didn’t help that the Goggle Box lot poked fun at it too.
Could that be why they released a second advert to run in the official booked slot on BBC1? That one had much more of what we’re used to. Face-to-face testimonies of real people talking about how Brexit has affected them and their work.
It’s shorter, and cuts straight to its core message about stopping Brexit, but honestly, it could have been more creative — like the John Cleese one from 1997.
The political parties don’t always play by the rules — and I mean all of them (bar the Green Party, who are usually pretty good), but in this modern age of social media scrutiny and fake news doubt, will the public give them a lump of coal for being naughty or the keys to Number 10 for being nice? Though thinking about it, I don’t remember any kid who ever actually got coal for Christmas, no matter how naughty they were.