New Tory poster campaign a stroke of viral genius?

This week saw the launch of the Conservative’s latest nationwide campaign, seemingly aimed at reaching out to those who have never voted Tory before.

Along with the usual YouTube videos, leaflets, tweets, etc, there are also three accompanying posters.

The Tories’ last poster campaign, you know, the one sporting a rather smoothly airbrushed David Cameron, looking more like Morph then a regular human being, didn’t take long for the blogosphere to say something about it.

Doctored versions of the poster started springing up everywhere, from Facebook to websites such as mydavidcameron.com, which even uploaded blank templates for people to edit as they saw fit.

And it only took a few hours Monday morning for exactly the same thing to happen again:

If the Tories had replaced their entire poster campaign from the previous in order to stem the effort non-conservatives were going to with parodying their messages as The Independent had reported, they failed. Before lunchtime #ivenevervotedtory was trending worldwide on Twitter:

  • #ivenevervotedtory because actually I think Gordon and Alistair have done a great job … mwahahahaha
  • #ivenevervotedtory because that New Labour, New Danger ad campaign still gives me nightmares
  • #ivenevervotedtory because I believe in genuine co-operative values not made up twaddle
  • #ivenevervotedtory because of their position on Europe. Oh and because they remind me of all the stuck-up braying arses I was at uni with!
  • #ivenevervotedtory because Phil Collins will come back if I do
  • #ivenevervotedtory because they are home to homophobic bigots and promote an unequal society
  • #ivenevervotedtory because Jim Davidson does. And you don’t want to be associated with that c**t

By mid week, the ‘I’ve never voted Tory but’ poster parodies had made pretty good coverage, both online, and nationally. They had spread across all manner of social networks and news sites, from Facebook to New Statesman. Seemingly a fail for the Conservatives, and a win for the Government. However, was this exactly what the Conservatives wanted to happen? (Cue evil genious laugh)

As Paul Owen wrote in his blog over at the Guardian, the new posters practically beg to be altered. The slogans are set out on big blue oblongs, making them so simple to edit my 5 year old cousin could manage it, and that half sentence; “I’ve never voted Tory, but” pleads for defacement louder than a whitewash wall in the middle of Hackney.

The defacement of the posters helped elevate public interest in the original campaign to levels well above what our political apathy often allows for, and at far lesser cost. Plus, by the end of Monday, #ivenevervotedlabour had replaced #ivenevervotedtory, which was no longer trending:

  • #ivenevervotedlabour because ultimately they run out of other people's money
  • #ivenevervotedlabour and never will because the bastards have stolen my hard earned pension
  • #ivenevervotedlabour because they are a bunch of joyless self righteous authoritarians who want to dictate how we all lead our lives
  • #ivenevervotedlabour because their policies are designed to keep poor people poor
  • #ivenevervotedlabour because ALL Labour Governments run out of our money in the end
  • #ivenevervotedlabour Because quantitative easing is the economics policy of Mugabe

The Tory tweeters had come out in force, in their Uggs and Jack Wills, probably sitting in the Sloaney Pony in Parsons Green, tweeting furiously on their iPhones.

If anything, the tweets from both sides provided a lot of public opinion, more so than you’d expect to get from spending thousands on focus groups.

As the dust slowly starts to settle and the posters continue to bounce through peoples’ inboxes, you’ve got to ask, was this a stroke of viral marketing genius? 

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