Monday, May 03, 2010

A Tale of Two Campaign Videos

One new aspect of election campaigning in this country is the advent of the campaign video. Candidates are making them, political parties are making them, but individuals and campaign groups are also making them too. So far we haven't seen many American style attack videos, but in the latter stages of the campaign we may see more of them. Today, the Young Britons' Foundation has released a video pointing out what it thinks the dangers of a hung parliament would be.

Last week, another video appeared on Youtube, which is pro Change.

What both of the these videos have in common is that they are very careful not to tell you who which party to vote for. "Vote for a Strong Party" is the YBF message. I wonder who that could be. "Vote for Change" says the second one, with a yellow background. Hmmm.

But these are two very contrasting videos. The second one carries a very positive message and by the end gets positively inspirational. The first one is full of gloom and doom and warns of the consequences of a hung parliament. It's very professionally made and simple to understand, but I have to say that it overdoes its message. The consequences it outlines may well be possible, but few people watching will believe them.

The lesson from all this is that it is far easier to make a positive message work in video campaigning in this country than a negative one. I remember when 18 Doughty Street did a series of attack ads that it was incredibly difficult to get them right. We're not America, and we're not used to them, so they can easily go down like the proverbial lead balloon, or backfire totally.

This goes back to my theory that optimistic politicians with optimistic messages are more likely to win elections than those who are pessimists. Of course negative campaigning has a role to play, but it has to be subtle and it needs to resonate with what the electorate is already thinking - even subconsciously.


commentor said...

Scary Biscuits said...

Dale is confusing two things: (a) attack ads that work because they've got saturation coverage via paid ads and (b) videos that go viral on the internet because they're funny/uplifting/resonant etc.

For example, the Swift Boat campaign did so much to undermine Kerry's claims to military valour (he had been awarded Purple Hearts but you get those for simply being wounded, such as literally shooting yourself in the foot). The ads were successful not because of how well they were produced but because everybody saw them: they were paid ads on national networks.

JMB said...

Might be old-fashioned but I find that I very rarely open a link to a video on a blog or news source. I can quickly read through a written comment and decide whether it is worth reading carefully or ignoring.

You can tell in the first couple of seconds that a video is not worth watching but often you have to watch more of it and perhaps replay part. All takes much longer.

I think I will scream if I see yet another based on "Downfall"

MancUnionist said...

This is another one I quite like.

Tungsten Pirate said...

I really really like the second one.
Clever, without being smug.

Anonymous said...

We need someone to challenge the assumption that all three main parties make that your own position is so weak and unappealing that you have to attack that of all the others. It just polarises politics and turns people off.

The King of Wrong said...

The YBF video is a bit crap, not just negative. The tone is entirely wrong for news broadcasts aand the intercut narration and lightning-over-parliament shots break the fourth wall in a clumsy way. It also contains some dodgy predictions which break suspension of disbelief.

The second, "Vote for Change" video is very cleverly done. The line breaks and reading were somewhat odd at first, but the variation on the classic "read every other line" reference was nicely done and got the point across well. If anything, it's about a minute too long and a bit unsteady at first - people will turn off in droves before they reach the twist. Was quite uplifting, though.

Norfolk Blogger said...

It is a shame that you should be promoting the YBF on a day when they are distributing thousands of leaflets across the country with no imprint.

Do you support this ?

Iain Dale said...

If you actually bothered to read what I wrote you would have worked out that I think the YBF video is rather counterproductive.

On the leaflets I have no idea what you are talking about.

Thomas said...

There's also the fact that negative messages work well in a strict two-party system where a vote lost for party A is a vote won for party B.
However, as soon as there are three or more parties, negative ads are of much more dubious value. Attacking Labour could benefit the Tories, the LibDems, the SNP, PC, or one of the smaller parties, so at the very least they need to be combined with a positive message, too.

Right Hon. said...

Thanks for posting these videos.

The YBF one is so over-the-top that it feels like a spoof on negative campaigning.

What or who exactly are the YBF? They say on their website that they are non-partisan but they must be Young Conservatives based on their ludicrous video.

Jimmy said...

The LibDem one was clever, the BlaneyJugend basically the sort of spittle flecked paranoid rant you'd expect from them. I'd assumed he was gagged until Friday. You lot must be confident if he's been let loose.

Adrian Windisch said...

I had a leaflet from YBF yesterday. I looked them up, they are Tory. They have distributed half a million leaflets with no imprint. They dont say vote for the Tories, but their message is the Tory message.

See the leaflet at

No blog yet about the Lab PPC Manish Sood said 'Brown the worst PM ever'?