By The Drum Team, Editorial

April 13, 2011 | 4 min read

The Yes and No campaigns are well underway ahead of the referendum on the Alternative Vote on 5 May. So who is making the best case?

TV broadcasts

The Yes ad depicts incompetent MPs leading a "cushy" life under the current first-past-the-post voting system. The No film features comedian Rik Mayall reprising his odious MP character Alan B'Stard, and basically tells us that if we vote yes we'll end up with a load of b'stards in power.


The humble billboard is always one of the key battlegrounds for political mudslinging during any self-respecting election campaign. We're expecting more referendum posters to appear over the next fortnight, but here are a few that are doing the rounds so far, including an unlikely poster boy for the Yes camp.

Celebrity backers

The Yes campaign was launched by comedian Eddie Izzard and former athlete Kris Akabusi. Film and TV stars Joanna Lumley, Colin Firth, Honor Blackman and Stephen Fry appear in pro-AV leaflets, while left-wing musician Billy Bragg is another lending his support. Tony Robinson, aka Blackadder's Baldrick, has leant his voice to a Yes radio ad.

While the Yes campaign has enlisted a number of comedians as supporters, No has chosen a decidedly more sporty set of advocates. Former cricketers Darren Gough and David Gower, Olympic gold medal rower James Cracknell and Grand Prix bosses Ron Dennis, Eddie Jordan and Sir Frank Williams are among those lending their support. Scientist Robert Winston is another face in the No crowd.

Digital and social media

The two websites - and - are both straight out of the online election handbook, with all the usual blog and video trappings you'd expect present and correct. The No campaign has trumped its rival on Google, however: search for AV or Alternative Vote and you'll see the 'No to AV' site on the crucial first page of results. Yes is nowhere to be seen.

Unsurprisingly, both campaigns are going big on social media. Whichever camp you're in you can download Twibbons and widgets for your website to show your support. Pledge your backing to the No campaign on Facebook and Twitter and you can be added to a cute, if largely redundant map, showing where all the No voters are based.

The Yes campaign is edging ahead slightly in numbers of social media fans. At the time of writing Yes has 9,505 'likes' on Facebook to No's 6,457 and 5,969 followers on Twitter to No's 4,611.

However, as we know, size isn't everything - what you do with it counts too. The Yes campaign could be seen as being a bit aggressive on Twitter judging by the responses below. After being criticised for dropping black poet Bejamin Zephaniah from its ad campaign, Yes didn't mince its words...

Marketing agencies

On the advertising front, London-based agency Iris is behind Yes while Edinburgh agency Family has been working on the No campaign. The NO to AV television broadcast was created by Great Western Features. MessageSpace is handling No's digital porfolios, including online media buying/planning.

Family's work includes several campaigns running across national, regional and local press and on digital sites such as the Hogarth roundabout in London. It is also delivering PR stunts and virals. The agency said its work was intended to communicate the benefits of a system which is ‘tried and tested’.

The Yes campaign was slower out of the traps than No but this was a tactical decision, according to Iris boss Paul Bainsfair, who told The Independent the agency would save its work for the final fortnight before D-Day. "There's not a great deal to be gained from advertising too far ahead," he said. "People have got other things on their minds."

So are the two campaigns actually helping you to make your mind up, or just making things more confusing?

Yes or No - which side do you think has set its stall out the best? Tell us in our comments section...

Family Liberal Democrats Conservative Party

More from Family

View all