Wednesday 7 December 2016

Labour's lesson on the risks and rewards of political advertising

Published 11/01/2016 | 02:30

In the Labour Party's proposed advertisement, Gerry Adams (pictured) was depicted in marital union with Micheal Martin Photo: Stephen Collins/Collins Photos
In the Labour Party's proposed advertisement, Gerry Adams (pictured) was depicted in marital union with Micheal Martin Photo: Stephen Collins/Collins Photos

Political campaign advertising in Ireland seldom inspires. In this country, the use of paid advertising to influence the debate - and ultimately voters - is confined largely to general election campaigns. Unlike America, we are spared the scourge of 'always-on' campaigning, where some advertising agencies solely work in the political field. Political advertising in Ireland is mostly created by advertising executives who are used to designing campaigns with consumers in mind, not voters. There is a huge difference.

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It can happen that Don Draper types get very excited at the prospect of playing with politics and power. But it can also happen that freewheeling minds are not always conducive to attracting potential voters. A devil-may-care attitude may not always sit easily with the typical ultra-cautious Irish candidate. God forbid that creativity ever gets a foot in the door of our political arena. All hell could break loose. So the advertising agencies cannot be left to their own devices - they require constant attention and need to be managed tightly by the campaign teams.

In the run-up to any election, political messaging obviously becomes more intense and important and so the boys and girls in the backrooms finally get a chance to shine - and to break out their crayons and start using their imagination and creativity.

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