The battle for the 80’s – a battle of values?

Do you think Gene Hunt of Ashes to Ashes is a hero or villain? Political Parties seem to think that if you can remember the 1980’s you will have a clear view and even if were too young, you will have an opinion.

In the last few months we have seen a Conservative poster campaign “I’ve never voted Tory” that seems to be seeking to establish a social norm for people in the 35-55 age group who as young people broadly voted against Mrs Thatcher in the 1980’s, that it is now acceptable to voter Conservative.

In response Labour commissioned a crowd-sourced poster that was eventually won by a design from a 24 year old making a comparison between Gene Hunt and David Cameron. The poster was widely seen as backfiring as it misjudged the way Gene Hunt is seen by some people. The Conservatives having been put on the backfoot over their two previous poster campaigns involving an “airbrushed” David Cameron and a “tombstone”, were able to counter attack with a humourous poster of their own that was able to convey their change message more effectively that some of their past efforts.

Much of this was down to the values of the people commissioning the work. This can be dangerous if a message is commissioned by people of similar values and not tested on those who might hold different values. Pat Dade of our partners, Cultural Dynamics has written an excellent article on this here.

As Pat shows only 12% of the population self-identify through their political convictions. Most of that is concentrated with people who have inner directed or intrinsic needs. Thus there is a danger that those who hold those values will fail to engage with the values of those who needs are driven differently.

The lessons of the current online poster wars  is that crowdsourcing may be a good idea, but that it needs a reality check through message testing across values. At the same time online rapid rebuttal is proving very effective, whether it is Labour or Conservatives doing it.

As well as writing about the poster war Pat has also analysed the current values heartlands of each of the political parties and the data on this is here. The contraction in the number of outer-directed voters and the increase in those more focused on security and survival values, means a more polarised electorate, which could have serious implications for whichever government is elected after May 6th.

Charlie Mansell is Research and Development Officer for the Campaign Company

Leave a Reply