Thursday, April 09, 2015

Political advertising - a shop window for agencies?

General Election campaigns have often provided  exposure for the advertising agency as well as the client.

Campaign - the advertising world's newspaper - describes the impact of the Saatchi & Saatchi poster for Margaret Thatcher's  Conservative Party, "It only appeared on a handful of sites, was backed by a minuscule budget and its imagery was faked. Yet it's fair to say that the 1979 poster for the Conservative Party declaring "Labour isn't working" was a game-changer." As with political poster campaigns it wasn't intended to be posted on every bill-board in the country, but to generate PR and news interest. It certainly achieved that, enraged the then Labour Government and did no harm to the advertising agency's creative reputation either. What the ad did was combine a cleverly crafted headline with a memorable image - a subtle play on words that was effective in communicating a single message.

Jobs are high on the agenda for the 2015 General Election campaign too. Politicians would have us believe they create jobs which in the public sector they may do, but in the private sector the best they can do is create an economic environment in which business can thrive. Here the strategy and messages get a bit mixed up. Business Matters reports, "Now that parliament has dissolved, speculation over the outcome of the general election is rife - and what this holds for businesses. The big debates seem to be dominated by the corporate giants who are getting a huge amount of airtime. But considering that one third of private sector turnover in the UK comes from small businesses, according to ONS, and that in 2014 over 99 per cent of UK private sector businesses can be classed as SMEs (Parliament statistics), it makes sense to place this debate in the context of small and mid-sized companies. Seeing as innovative SMEs have been praised as “growth engines” of the UK economy in the political arena, what can the incoming government do to reward and support entrepreneurship, and, in turn, further economic growth?"

The fact is that much employment legislation originates in the EU in Brussels, not the Westminster Parliament and this growing body of law discourages entrepreneurial start-ups hiring staff.  So instead a different business model operates - a network of small businesses and individuals providing services to each other. SMEs and micro businesses are equally concerned with tax, but unlike the big businesses and the CBI they do contribute tax, not avoid it. Not only do most small companies pay tax, but through VAT collect it as well. Most MPs and candidates at this election have never worked in business (or at all) tending instead to emerge from university, into a political research job and to become an MP.  Corporate big business through take overs and amalgamations - Shell and BG being the latest - are more likely to result in job losses, than job creation, so are these tax avoiding, job cutting companies who are not even voters the right people to woo?

Without a clear strategy of addressing the SMEs - where individuals do have a vote - we are unlikely to see ground breaking ads of the calibre of the 1979 one.

1 comment:

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