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Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Lessons from Ashes to Ashes - future elections will be anarchic and fast-changing battlefields.

The Ashes to Ashes billboard spoof between the Tories and Labour at the last election, stood out as an oasis of quick-thinking and imagination in an otherwise drab and sterile media campaign. In the heat of battle, it did not get the deserved attention from media analysts.

Labour’s billboard attempt to build on Gene Hunt’s character with Cameron sitting on the Quattro and a strapline of “Don’t let him take Britain back to the 1980’s”, was neatly turned against them with a Tory reworking of the image: “Fire up the Quattro, it’s time for a change.”

Apart from that, the billboards became yesterday’s tool. Those adverts that did reach the hoardings were the scenes of “improvements” from local graffiti artists. This has ever been the case. The difference this time was that the enhancements got a later airing on Twitter, Facebook and the blogsphere. A national audience was reached. Copywriting was democratised. Central party straplines were ridiculed with wit and insights.

Future elections will be largely fought through the blackberry, apps, blog, text and mobile. Imaginative, concise, quick-thinking and memorable messages will be needed for local leaflets if they are used, SMS circulation or Twittered in 140 characters. This can be a golden age for campaigners to generate witty, subversive, pithy and tight messages which tap into the voters’ psyche. Parties need to put in place, the infrastructure to harness the possibilities of a virtual reality campaign.

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