Charlotte Baker

5 influential political adverts and broadcasts from the UK

Politics: Ergh. It’s a topic many of us hear and we can’t help but yawn, despite its importance and impact on our lives. However, it can be said politicians are a lot like marketers – they want to engage with the public, influence people’s decisions and persuade us to respond to their campaign. Here are 5 influential political adverts and broadcasts where politicians have rallied in advertising experts and creative filmmakers to show off their plan of action to the masses. Whether this has an effect on the election race, I’m not too sure but nevertheless, they can be highly entertaining.

Kinnock: The Movie

What’s the common factor between the 1987 political movie of Neil Kinnock and the 1981 film, Chariots of Fire? Academy Award-Winning director Hugh Hudson, of course.

Chariots of Fire tells the dramatic and heroic story of two Olympic athletes, each trying to prove themselves and give back to the people. It was clear to see that Hudson tried to mirror the Chariots of Fire concept through Kinnock: The Movie, with the hope that Kinnock would be soon be doing his lap of honour. Kinnock’s struggle and belief in giving himself to the next generation was portrayed in a powerful and moving message. Yes, it was slightly OTT but I suppose all politicians are.

Blair & Brown – a match made in heaven?

This four-minute advert was also produced by fellow Oscar-Winning film director, Anthony Minghella, whose credits include The English Patient (1996) and Cold Mountain (2003).

The Labour broadcast shows numerous shots of Tony Blair and Gordon Brown deep in conversation. With a chuckle here and there, the duo tell the story of their journey together and what they’ve achieved. I must say it’s a pretty big achievement getting 9.6 million people to view your political broadcast which is more than half of the number of people watching television at the same time! One aspect of the broadcast that stood out was the dramatic music, an important piece of persuasion for any advert. It aimed to generate a sense of pride and emotion amongst viewers – I know, I almost welled up.

John Cleese is all yellow

This 1997 broadcast took a different approach compared to the two above. Actor John Cleese took the stage, best known for co-founding the ever so mighty, Monty Python. It was an immediate giveaway that the Lib Dems were relying on humour to get their message across. Cleese spoke directly to the audience, discussing thought-provoking issues and highlighting the benefits of the Lib Dem policies. In addition Cleese asked the public to get involved with the campaign, another technique to gain a response from voters.

The broadcast was based on the idea that many people liked the party’s policies and its leader, Paddy Ashdown, but would not vote Lib Dem because they thought an election victory was unlikely. And so, using Cleese as a front man would build trust amongst voters as well as tickle people’s funny bone. Ok, this may not have been as effective as Cleese’s 1980’s broadcasts but it was a good effort nonetheless!

Say hello to the Green Party

This is the most current broadcast we’ve chosen to babble on about. Launched in April 2014, the campaign flew around social media, a huge playground for today’s political parties to take advantage of. Within 3 days, the advert reached over 16,000 views on YouTube. It begins by poking fun at other parties who were engaged in a supposed ‘shouting match’. At the forefront of the broadcast was a lady who, despite her best efforts to come across humble and approachable appeared somewhat patronising in her message. Personally, I was more intrigued by her uneven eyebrows rather than what she was saying but that’s just me.

The broadcast went on to promote that even with a small number of representatives in the European Parliament, it was “possible to make a real difference”. Many people felt this was the Greens’ best PPB to date and a true left-wing alternative to the mainstream parties.

A final word from Thatcher

This Conservative Party Election Broadcast from 1987 would prove to be the last for Margaret Thatcher. It specifically targeted traditional Labour voters who the Conservatives needed to win in order to keep their power. To do this the party used a concept claiming Labour’s policies were an illusion.

The advert puts on a magic show with a twist, showcasing the ‘tricks’ of Labour, a clever approach to gain the attention of voters. It then shows Thatcher giving her impressive speech to the crowd. They roar for ‘Maggie, the greatest since Churchill’ as she declares how the Conservatives are the best fit for the nation. To conclude, triumphant music plays along side shots of Thatcher out and about, with the hope that viewers would also be cheering Madge on.