Election Watch: Labour, Tories and Lib Dems excel in making bad ads

Election Watch: Labour, Tories and Lib Dems excel in making bad ads

Could do better.

I’m only 3 months into this column and it already feels like I’m a teacher writing endless end of term reports - each with the same 2 messages: 'could do better' or 'needs improvement'.

It should be an exciting territory for creative inspiration - what subject is more emotive or important to our lives than who governs us? But instead, we see the same old lazy rehashes of old staples or imagery that feels designed to be deleted. It’s exhausting.

Enough with the woe is me - let’s see what wonders of mediocrity have been served up this month.


Have you ever seen a more strategically correct, but creatively boring advert? I’ll wait.

Thought of anything? I haven’t. There’s nothing wrong with this advert, but it looks and feels like an AI might have written and designed it. There’s the image of Rishi, the cost to the average family and then oh so much explanation which doesn’t actually do anything.

It’s a classic example of creation by committee - not only do we have the headline saying double whammy, we have the double punch visual illustrating it too. It’s unnecessary - you don’t need the language and the visual to do the same job. All it does is tell me that Labour don’t trust that voters will understand the message, and so rather than make the message simpler, they’ve just added more of it instead.

And yes, I know the boxing glove is an age-old political reference - that still doesn’t make this advert good.

It’s frustrating as the strategy is spot on - Labour should be reminding the nation at every opportunity that far from being the nation’s low-tax ‘saviours’, the Conservatives are actually responsible for record high tax burdens.

It’s just I’m sure it’s possible to do this without being quite so boring.

Election Watch: Labour, Tories and Lib Dems excel in making bad ads


Meanwhile over at Conservative HQ, they’ve spent the month creating ads they then had to delete after people pointed out everything that was wrong with them.

Let’s start with what they’d like us to talk about - their attacks on Sadiq Khan, focusing on all the reasons voting for him again would be a terrible choice. If you haven’t seen the original video, it looks like a trailer for the next 28 Days film. Only worse. Much much worse. It’s a shock and awe tactic, designed to portray London as a post apocalyptic hellhole. Which, as a Londoner, is news to me.

Except…they’re not really trying to talk to London voters with these now deleted ads.

Instead they’re trying to speak to the wider country - playing off supposed fears about London as a no-go city for Brits. It’s nonsense. And worse, it’s nonsense they can’t even get right. Because in this portrait of London, they’ve used clips of…not London. Words fail me.

And they didn’t stop there. Because why settle for just having to take down 1 of your own ads when you could take down 2. I’m sure by now we’ve all seen this poster.

At this point I'm convinced this is actually a strategy. Step 1: Create deliberately bad ads to get social media frothing at the mouth. But what’s step 2?

That’s the bit I can’t figure out. And I don’t think they know either. It’s noise for the sake of noise.

Election Watch: Labour, Tories and Lib Dems excel in making bad ads

Liberal Democrats

Ed Davey has a giant hourglass.

And it’s not even a real hourglass.

It looks like something Blue Peter made earlier.

That’s it.

That’s the stunt.

This from the party who’ve contributed so much to the political image.

I weep.

I’m not really sure how to wrap this month’s article up. The normal 'what have we learnt' section feels redundant as I'm not really sure we’ve learnt anything - beyond maybe that all three main parties have really phoned in their ads this month?

Join me next month when we find out if this was rock bottom or if there’s new depths of political advertising still to be plumbed.

Election Watch: Labour, Tories and Lib Dems excel in making bad ads

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