ADVERTISING & PROMOTION: The sweet smell of success’

The looming general election has already prompted the Conservative and Labour parties to label each other ‘liars’ and ‘demons’, but both appear to have forgotten to ask the voters how they feel about the country’s main political parties and the men who lead them.

The looming general election has already prompted the Conservative and

Labour parties to label each other ‘liars’ and ‘demons’, but both appear

to have forgotten to ask the voters how they feel about the country’s

main political parties and the men who lead them.

According to research carried out by advertising agency Barker &

Ralston, political consumers see the market for political parties as a

‘jungle of confusion’ and have some less-than-flattering things to say

about them.

Using a process called ‘Sensory Edge’, the agency asked a sample of 40

voters to describe their feeling about the three main political parties

according to their five senses. So, for example, respondents are asked

if the Tory Party was a smell, what would it be? Tellingly, the answer

from several respondents was ‘old farts’.

Barker & Ralston developed the system to build a sensory profile of

brands as a first step towards creating an effective marketing campaign

and have used the process on clients such as Saab and Beck’s beer.

The research indicated that voters are divided by the feeling that

change is necessary and the fear of what change will mean. Barker &

Ralston believe the current political scene bears many similarities to

the mobile phone sector of several years ago.

Using the five senses, the Conservatives conjured up images of

traditional England and stagnation, such as ‘Saville Row suits, stodgy

wealth, BBC voice, mothballs, old velvet and weak tea’, while Labour

represented change and risk (see illustration).

The Liberal Democrats were almost unquantifiable, generating images of

‘empty benches in Parliament, silence, flowers, doves’ wings and

Sandwich Spread’.

Both the Conservative and Labour parties are playing on their opponents’

weaknesses and consumers’ fears with lines like ‘New Labour, New Danger’

and ‘Same old Tories, same old lies’. But both may need to take a more

positive stance and promote their own policies rather than attacking

others. It seems the Conservatives and Labour could benefit from using a

line similar to WCRS’s ‘The Future’s Bright. The Future’s Orange.’

Rupert Hopkins, planning director at Barker & Ralston, says consumers

are confused by the endless number of issues, such as BSE, Europe and

gun laws.

‘The average punter just avoids the area because they feel a lack of

confidence in making the right decision. Underpinning this is a belief

that somewhere, somehow, they are going to get ripped off. The next

election could pivot as much on how much the average voter wishes to

embrace change as on which party or party leader represents the right

answer,’ he says.


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