We’ve come to the end of a long week of celebrity appearances, shapes, Marmite, stock footage, staged cups of tea, and David Cameron. The Party Political Broadcast has clearly demonstrated itself to be a sophisticated art form, which is complicated to the degree where even those with a lot of money to spend cannot pull one off successfully.
What conclusions can we draw from what we’ve seen, then? Well, first off, I think it’s safe to say that the medium of video, at least in this respect, is very restricting. It’s a monumental task to try and cram in policies, party ideologies, reasons to vote (for them), attention-grabbers (bangs), and rapport-building emotional subtext, tied up with a bow of political branding, into a video that’s no longer than five minutes. Indeed, in some cases, it’s not possible at all, and parties have to produce multiple Party Political Broadcasts to get across the ‘full picture’. Don’t forget that I have only concentrated on single videos, here, for purposes of brevity. There are many other PPBs out there, and I implore you to go and hunt them out. However, it’s important that broadcasts get their message across to any citizen who only watches one particular broadcast, which is we’re honest, means most of us. It’s not okay to assume that voters will hunt down every video, like a crazed groupie, foaming at the mouth with lust for political knowledge. Advertising, in most cases, is an obligation, so be nice, and be concise.
What is it about content, specifically, that is either engaging or not? What makes a Party Political Broadcast great, as opposed to one that’s average? Also, is it best to get across those all-important manifesto points, and plans for world domination, or provide something enjoyable and visually stimulating? Why can’t you do both? In my opinion, at least, I’ve always felt that as a visual medium, videos need to take advantage of, well, video. It’s no point inundating your viewers with text, or narration. If that’s to be the case, then why produce a video? Why not print yet another leaflet, or parade through the streets, narrating the public with a megaphone? It just doesn’t make sense. A good Party Political Broadcast needs to be a good piece of video. Something that makes you say, “wow, that was cool”, while giving you the down-low on what the relevant party stand for. Off the top of my head, I remember the colourful shapes from the Green Party broadcasts, and the very visual tableaus constructed from them. I also remember all of the paper from the Lib Dem broadcast. That isn’t to say that the other broadcasts were terrible, though. In much of the same way, I remember the dodgy, staged shots of Malcolm Pearson at home, from UKIP’s broadcast, and Eddie Izzard’s cheeky “vote Labour” from the Labour broadcast. Whether these remembrances translate into anything worthwhile is another question entirely, but at least it’s a way of ensuring that whatever political party are guaranteed a valuable plot of prime brain real-estate.
To conclude, and to return to our original question, how relevant are today’s Party Political Broadcasts? I think it’s important to take into account that this year, these broadcasts are being watched online, as well as on TV. This instantly presents a challenge, seeing as these are two wildly different mediums, which each carry different expectations. I must reiterate, however, that while videos are special, videos are still videos. They should be treated as such, and should offer something pleasing, or memorable (hopefully both). It doesn’t matter how well you tag your videos, or make it as easy as possible to distribute them throughout the Internet. A boring video is still a boring video. In my mind, at least, the most successful Party Political Broadcasts have been those that have been innovative, and have provided some spectacle. From my perspective, what with this being the ‘digital election’, and all, I’d hope that political parties want to make illuminating broadcasts, as to encourage (positive) sharing. I am only part of one of many demographics and target markets, but I do feel this rule applies across the board. No matter how old you are, who you are, or where you live, you still possess the capacity to be amused, and to be entertained. Also, don’t forget that word-of-mouth still applies, whether online, off-line, or in line at the Post Office.
Thanks for reading, folks.
Hello everybody. Welcome to part 2 of my exposition into how relevant Party Political Broadcasts are in this day and age. For those of you just joining us, thank you. Every day, for the next few days, I’m going to be taking apart a Party Political Broadcast and try to determine what it actually says about the party itself. Enjoy! Today we’re dealing with:
The second PPB from the Conservative Party is based very much around David Cameron himself, and how to ‘change a country’. This is interesting, as I assume we’re all fed up of the credit crunch. Can the Conservatives fix it, though?
What it says about the Conservatives. A shot-by-shot analysis: Opening shot of David Cameron sitting in garden. He must like foliage. He then points out that the first debate shook up the election, and asks what it takes to change a country. His answer: Talking to people. Cut to shot of Cameron talking to people, where he narrates an emphasis on conversation. He does not seem to be having any conversations. Shot of Cameron being honest about economy. Cameron moves on to second point, about how a strong leader is necessary, who is ready to ‘take a stand’. Cut to shot of Cameron standing up, addressing people about MP expenses. Clever. Cameron adds that a good leader is energetic and optimistic. Cut to speech about optimism. Cameron then moves on to talk about ‘strong values’. Cut to speech about values, and the importance of families. A ‘big idea’ is also essential to changing a country. Cameron says that his party possess such an idea: ‘The Big Society’. Cut to another speech about how all politicians are ‘mugs’, and about how Cameron wants to stop crime by engaging ‘The Big Society’, and making shopkeepers stop selling alcohol to kids. Cameron argues that people need more power. “Be your own boss, sack your MP”, etc. Cameron emphasises again that politicians “don’t know everything”, and giving more power to the people. Cameron then stresses the need of a new government by ‘blowing apart’ the current state of government. I am reminded of action films. To close, Cameron focuses on Conservative policies, and voting for ‘not Labour’.
Opinion: From a branding perspective, this is very interesting. The video, and indeed, the first Conservative PPB focuses almost entirely upon Cameron. It’s as if their focus, and their aim is to very much sell the ‘Cameron’ brand to prospective voters. This video mainly focuses on why Cameron thinks he will make a good PM, namely because he likes talking to people, likes societies (and gardens), and wants to smash the current political system. Controversial. The video did cover Conservative policies, but it almost feels like these took a back seat to Cameron’s selling of himself.
Stay tuned for tomorrow’s continuation of this epic saga, when we tackle the Liberal Democrat PPB.
My dear friend Chloe caught sight of David Cameron’s battle bus this morning, which was parked outside our university library, at the University of Southampton, while we were doing some filming for an unrelated project. We’d just finished the actual filming, and whilst I was packing up, Chloe ran outside briefly, returning ten minutes later, trumpeting that she’d given David Cameron what-for.
Fast-forward a few hours, and it seems that Chloe is something of a nationwide phenomenon. Follow the links at the bottom of this post, and you’ll see what all the fuss is about.
I’ve just spoken with Chloe now, who is a mite astounded at all the mileage her comments have gained, and is very willing to engage with people. She’s very enthusiastic about speaking to people about her talk with David Cameron, and also her views on politics and education.
Chloe is happy to speak to people, respond to messages, and also to add people, as long as you explain who you are. She’s also comfortable with doing interviews, and can drive.
If you’re reading this, and you’re not related to the press, please spread the word, however you can, and use the #chloegreen hashtag. This is a great opportunity not only for Chloe, but for students in general to speak out about the importance of maintaining government bursaries and grants.
BBC News video: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk_politics/election_2010/8644380.stm
BBC Elections Live Coverage: (12:45) http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/shared/election2010/liveevent/
The Telegraph video: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/newsvideo/uk-politics-video/7634823/General-Election-2010-David-Cameron-confronted-by-university-student.html
Daily Echo (Southampton): http://www.facebook.com/l.php?u=http://www.dailyecho.co.uk/news/8120138.Cameron_berated_by_student_on_city_visit/&h=a84a5
Chloe motivational poster: http://sphotos.ak.fbcdn.net/hphotos-ak-snc3/hs283.snc3/27828_10150153583060162_756620161_12216211_8384414_n.jpg
Chloe on ‘The Campaign Show’ (iPlayer): http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b00s8jms/The_Campaign_Show_26_04_2010/
Peter Henley’s BBC News blog: http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/peterhenley/2010/04/cameron_caught_by_student_chlo.html
Article from The Mirror: http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/top-stories/2010/04/27/cam-caned-by-student-over-cuts-115875-22215006/
Iain Martin’s Wall Street Journal Blog: http://blogs.wsj.com/iainmartin/2010/04/26/cameron-at-his-most-effective/
Chloe speaks to Current: http://current.com/news-and-politics/92402312_student-who-told-david-cameron-i-dont-believe-you-talks-to-current.htm
UPDATE: Chloe has been in touch with the BBC, and may be doing something BBC and media related later on tonight. Watch this space.
UPDATE #2: Having talked further with the BBC, Chloe will be on The Campaign Show on BBC 1 tonight.
UPDATE #3: Chloe was actually on BBC News, which was then re-broadcast on BBC Parliament. Apologies for any confusion. You should be able to see her on iPlayer rather soon here.
UPDATE #4: Chloe now on iPlayer. Check it out! Let us know what you think.
UPDATE #5: Chloe in talks with SUSU.TV about the possibility of an interview. If it goes ahead, you’ll be the first to hear about it.
UPDATE #6: More links added! Let’s keep this train a’rollin!
UPDATE #7: Link added. Crazy discussion going on in the comments to the Current article. Also updated contact links.