Election 2005: Top 5 election moments

From post-war 'charters' to slick New Labour, these are the campaigns that shaped modern political advertising.

1951 - 'Set the people free' was the Conservative slogan in 1951, embodied in a series of 'charters' detailing innovative policies in all the major areas, such as home-building (pictured).

After the 'strength through misery' austerity regime of Sir Stafford Cripps, Chancellor of the Exchequer in the post-war Labour government, the slogan and the campaign resonated with voters fed up with food rationing. It summarised in pithy form what the British people were feeling - a sense of oppression following nearly 12 years of diet by government fiat.

1979 - The Conservative campaign for this election made the name of Saatchi & Saatchi. The slogan 'Labour isn't working' said succinctly what everybody had been saying in a more roundabout way, and creative advertising celebrated the theme. An iconic poster showed an interminable queue outside an unemployment office, while a film depicted British citizens being tried before a judge for seeking basic economic freedoms. Party political broadcasts were reinvented as satirical dramas, and the old 'talking head' format was abolished.

1983 - This was a disastrous campaign for the Labour Party. It is significant that nobody can ever recall its advertising for this election - the folk memory is of Michael Foot's bus-top wanderings and antediluvian ranting.

In truth, the 1983 election sounded the death-knell of Old Labour; it serves as a permanent reminder to New Labour of why it exists. Its significance lies in what it taught the party about the need for co-ordination, tight discipline, the fabrication of visual and verbal rhetoric, and control over the exposure of key political figures.

1992 - The years after the disaster of 1983 saw an overhaul in the Labour Party's political communication. But the 1992 election proved it still had lessons to learn before it could win the trust of the 'Middle England' voters that stood between it and government. The enigma of this campaign was that the party excelled in terms of conventional advertising, running a professional and polished campaign, yet still lost, raising questions about the implementation of marketing in a political context. Labour's advertising sought to present the look of a government in power, featuring pseudo-ministers speaking in neo-classical settings. But voters look for evidence of authenticity, and all the gloss seemed to suggest the party was hiding something. A message is given out intentionally, but meaning can also be transmitted unintentionally. In contrast, John Major's soapbox and the brutal, powerful Tory advertising (pictured) succeeded in convincing voters.

1997 - The 1997 Labour campaign showed the party had mastered the art of political communication. 'It's time for change' was the slogan, and it stirred an emotional chord after nearly two decades of Conservative government. It articulated a national mood and gave focus and direction to the communication.

Much of Labour's advertising focused on creating a persona for Tony Blair, who seemed to personify the 'change' implied by the slogan. The symbol of the campaign, a bulldog, was cheekily borrowed from the iconography of political reaction - it dominated the advertising and explicitly flaunted the fact that Labour was no longer a socialist party. The party's advertising even dared to suggest a spiritual dimension to Labour's cause, with one sequence featuring an angel.


Before commenting please read our rules for commenting on articles.

If you see a comment you find offensive, you can flag it as inappropriate. In the top right-hand corner of an individual comment, you will see 'flag as inappropriate'. Clicking this prompts us to review the comment. For further information see our rules for commenting on articles.

comments powered by Disqus
Brand Republic Jobs

subscribe now


Waitrose boosts content strategy with 'Weekend Kitchen with Waitrose' C4 tie-up
Hottest virals: Cute puppies star in Pedigree ad, plus Idris Elba and Fruyo
Amnesty International burns candles to illuminate new hope
Toyota achieves the impossible by calming angry Roman drivers
Tom of Finland's 'homoerotic' drawings made into stamps
YouTube reveals user habits to appeal to 'older' marketers
Ex-M&S marketing chief Steven Sharp consulting at WPP
Wolff Olins reveals new CEO after Apple poaches Karl Heiselman
Glasgow offers £30,000 prize to best digital idea for 2014 Commonwealth Games
Google's revenues surge but shares drop as it grapples with transition to mobile
Facebook beats Twitter to most 'marketing friendly' social media site crown, says DMA
Fableists believe children like Finn should be outdoors enjoying life
Homebase, Baileys and Camelot join the line-up at Media360
MasterCard renews Rugby World Cup sponsorship to push cashless message
Lynx unleashes £9m 'Peace invasion' campaign
Social Brands 100 Youth: Pizza Hut most social youth brand in UK
Cheryl Cole is wild and arresting in new L'Oreal work
Morrisons told not to show alcohol ads during YouTube nursery rhymes
O2 head of brand Shadi Halliwell departs after 23 years at company in restructure
Tesco hit by further sales decline as it turns to digital Clubcard and social network
Branding guru Wally Olins dies aged 83
Duracell short film captures epic Transatlantic voyage
Ash runs Tinder experiment to show smokers are less desirable to opposite sex
British Airways teams up with Gerry Cottle Jnr for summer of rooftop film screenings
Arklu says 'girls can be superheroes too' with doll design competition
Coke enters squash market with Oasis Mighty Drops
Virgin Galactic signs up Land Rover as space flight sponsor
Motorola marketer Andrew Morley departs as Google gears up for sale to Lenovo
US Airways apologises after tweeting obscene image at a customer
Mumsnet admits users' emails and passwords accessed via Heartbleed bug