Thursday, January 14, 2010

subvertising for change

Politics is not about personalities, it's about policies. And when you've as little personality as David Cameron it says a lot that the team decides it carries more weight than your nebulous policy commitments.

The new billboard campaign has a scary stary David looking as airbrushed and alien as the singer out of Sonseed.

Conservative election poster: We can't go on like this, I'll cut the deficit not the NHS

Promising to preserve the NHS, where have we heard that before?

The National Health Service is safe in our hands.
- Margaret Thatcher, Conservative Party conference 1983

Saying you support the country's most treasured institution is a soft-soap. We know that it's a distraction from the ideas they've got keystered. Their attacks on Tax Credits and Incapacity Benefit, the upping of the threshold of Inheritance Tax. These things aren't separate Conservative plans, just facets of the same one. Impoverishing the poor and defending the rich. As ever.

Oh but surely they're different now. I mean, the bad old days are behind them, opposition has taught the Tories humility. How else could they have a leader who says with a staight face, 'our party is the party of equality and opportunity'?

Oh, er, hang on, that was Thatcher in 1975.

Anyway, back to the present day posters, what I find weird is the slogan they're rolling with, 'we can't go on like this'. These things are argued about, mulled over and focus-grouped, every nuance and connotation evaluated.

We know they're consciously thinking about Obama and trying to ride the last whiffs of his slipstream by using the 'change' motif. But the prime slogan of that campaign was 'Yes We Can'. Picking 'We Can't Go On Like This' might, in some coked-up ad-exec way, seem like an echo of the Obama slogan because it uses the same verb but, out here in normal language world, swapping 'can' for 'can't' makes it feel like it's the exact opposite of Obama's winning phrase.

Last election season there were people letting you put your own slogans on to the Conservative advert template. This time round they've done it again.

There are already some good ones.



And the sheer genius of


It's a nice little giggle, but you can give it a bit of real-world effect by making stickers out of the good ones and putting them up about the place. As I said last election time

It's very easy to do your own stickers. You can buy packets of blank stickers at any office supply shop, and Microsoft Word has built-in templates for many sizes of sticker-sheets. Go Tools / Envelopes and Labels... / Labels tab / Options... and there's a whole list. Avery J8165 are great, eight stickers to an A4 sheet, ideal for buses, trains, bus stops, etc.

And of course they're not just for these election things, but are a good swift and simple way to stop yourself feeling bombarded by advertising. It gives you a way to reply to ads, make it a dialogue and expose what they're really saying.


Alice said...

My printer ink isn't the waterproof kind, but I could print stickers at work or in an internet cafe or something.

Never worked out how to make a design land accurately on a sheet of stickers though - could you maybe post a template?

merrick said...


on the assumption that you've got Word, follow the instructions in that blockquote at the end of the post.