Boring Brexit campaigns should take a leaf out of the Green Party's book

The former Campaign deputy editor Jeremy Lee gives us the inside track on the stories that have got the ad industry talking.

It’s rare indeed that a party political broadcast – traditionally one of the most humdrum of creative confections – meets near universal praise. So real credit is due to Creature London for managing to break the mould with “the not so secret life of the 5-year-old politicians”, a spot for the Green Party’s candidate in the London Mayoral elections (unfortunately I can’t recall his or her name).

While some politico pedants have pointed out that it bears a passing resemblance to a previous political campaign by Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud party in Israel, Creature’s ad benefits from a tighter script and cleverer observations – its depiction of Theresa May’s attempts to look tough on immigration being a particular highlight.

Quite whether it’ll do enough to improve the Green Party’s showing at the last general election – where it received just one per cent of the popular vote – I’m not sure, but at least it goes some way to shifting perception of the party from its loony fringe hinterland (among some of its 2015 manifesto commitments was a “complete ban on cages for hens and rabbits” and a commitment to ensuring that “taxpayers’ money is not used for bullfighting”) to something more credible. And, as an exercise in lampooning its opponents, it’s certainly more effective than last year’s “the uncredible shrinking man” spot by Lucky Generals, which ended up looking rather spiteful and bitter.

Voters can expect to be bombarded with party political propaganda over the next few weeks as the country as a whole faces up to vote on the issue of Britain’s continued membership of the European Union (which could also be the defining point of whether David Cameron remains prime minister).

M&C Saatchi, which so effectively skewered Ed Miliband’s chance of entering Number 10, in England at least, with its poster of him appearing in the pocket of the SNP’s Alex Salmond, has just unveiled its first campaign for ConservativesIn, that wing of the party that wants to remain in the EU.

So far it lacks the punch of the “Miliband in Salmond’s pocket” poster campaign but given that the issue of Brexit has so far failed to get the country’s tap rooms fired up with impassioned debate then that’s not to be surprised.

Equally, Adam&Eve/DDB’s campaign for the cross-party organisation Britain Stronger in Europe is rather low-key, focusing largely on why prominent business people think the EU is important to them. I’m not convinced that that mythical political trope – the Man on the Clapham Omnibus – will really care so much about maintaining the financial fortunes of figures such as Karren Brady and Sir Richard Branson to ensure that they put their X next to the ‘Stay’ category on the ballot paper.

It’s possible then that the real clincher will come in the form of the leaflets that are being delivered by the government to every UK home starting this week at a cost in excess of £9m. The glossy 16-page leaflet will put the case for why the government thinks “voting to remain in the EU is the best decision for the UK” and has been met with controversy as an inappropriate use of taxpayers’ money.

It’ll probably have to be rather more exciting than the M&C Saatchi and Adam&Eve/DDB efforts if it is to beat the average 3.7 per cent response rate for a direct mail campaign, let alone get the electorate fired up about this crucial vote on 23 June. Perhaps the government should have looked to Creature for some creative and strategic advice.

Follow Jeremy on Twitter @JezzaLee.

The Drum will be hosting a marketing industry Brexit debate featuring senior figures from Ogilvy, Havas and Curzon PR on its Advertising Week bus on Monday 18 April. Register for your free ticket on our Eventbrite page.

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