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Election Campaign Success? Not according to advertisers...

Polling day is upon us and the campaigns are in full swing with one final day of constituency canvassing. But how have the electoral campaigns panned out from an advertising point of view? Have the campaigns made the most of modern channels to expose their policies and manifestos? Have the messages been passed on to the electorate? The Drum Network has asked a few of their members what they think of what has been branded by The Drum as a ‘lacklustre’ election campaign.

Mike Kalin, Creative Director at RBH

It’s official: The political poster is dead. In 2015, the fight has moved off the streets and onto our screens. Policies are explained in 140 characters, and while the debates may take place on TV, we all check our phones to see who scored the most Cool Points. But what do we actually remember? The fact that George Osborne plans to freeze fuel duty or that he just adores a hard hat? Ed Miliband unveiled an eight-foot stone slab, but can you recall anything etched into it? Dave’s “pumped up” and Ed declares “hell yes”, as they both campaign under slogans promising “a better future”. Nigel has his pint. Nick has his world-class collection of V-neck jumpers. The result? The polls remain deadlocked and a majority looks impossible as many voters abandon the parties with the biggest voices. As for those under 25s – the largest digital audience – they’re just not that bothered. The Russell Brand endorsements, Boris cameos and other social spotlight moments make entertaining reading, but trust may be the hardest thing to share. Millions will still vote with conviction, but the chances are it will be in spite of, rather than because of, this election campaign.

Katy Howell, CEO of Immediate Future

All the parties have made the most of paid social. Possibly because the ads are less regulated and can be targeted. This has certainly been a social media election. But I am not convinced it has had an impact. Posts and ads have been formulaic and broadcast in both copy and content. Looking at visible interactions, there hasn’t been much engagement; unless to do battle over some faux pas or poke fun. Whilst all Parties have used social more consistently, I don’t believe it has resonated with social audiences. A shame as there is so much more potential to capture social hearts and minds by being different and more open: encouraging debate and actually reflecting the social conversations more.

Ed MacLean, Events Producer at Invisible Artists

From an advertiser’s point of view, the General Election has simply reinforced how positive, hopeful messages resonate in the long term. Parties find it much more difficult to positively differentiate themselves in 2015 than even 30 years ago. Inevitably, this leads to a lot of negative campaigning. Earlier in the campaign, polls suggested that Labour’s campaign of anti-Tory messages were not effective in galvanising real support. Labour, and David Axelrod, listened up, and the message was changed to a pro NHS and fairness message, bouncing Ed Miliband and Labour back in the ratings. Recently, the recent Conservative focus on the supposed SNP/Labour deal has brought UKIP votes back to the fold, but has a sour taste for LibDem or Labour floating votes. There’s a key learning here. Parties, and advertisers need to focus on hope and positivity, rather than fear, shame or confusion. People believe in a better future - it’s up to us to tell them about it.

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