Wednesday, 24 June 2015

the politics of prancing

The price of real estate in the U.S. is still rising; for a nice place at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave, NW Washington the occupants spent around R 2,220,665,950.00 to renew their four year lease. That’s a lot less than it costs to get into the Union Buildings on Government Avenue, Pretoria. At least I hope it is, but Mr Zuma’s building spree seems to be directed in other areas. Just last week his spokesman said the people didn’t play for his R17 million home adjustment, the government did. Well that’s ok then.
Political advertising is a huge money-spinner for adland and media land alike. But in a one party state, which S.A. effectively remains, be that the NP or ANC, does advertising really have a role? Posters of candidates grinning like fools are just basic propaganda tools as employed by every big-wig autocrat from Hitler and Mussolini down to Castro and Eternal President of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea Kim Jong Un.

There’s a general feeling that there’s no reason to spend vast amounts on ads packed with campaign promises when there’s no sense in the voters wasting their time voting for outlandish promises from parties who aren’t getting in anyway. It’s like F1 used to be with Michael Schumaker it’s dull, it’s predictable and you know who’s going to win.
It’s terribly sad because if there’s one thing that elections are good for it’s interesting advertising.

Back in1990 Paul Wellstone ran his first campaign to get a seat on the US Senate. In a parody of Michael Moore’s “Roger and Me” he spent his commercials searching for the incumbent, Rudy Boschwitz, to challenge him to a live debate.
Not only did they generate more free PR space than almost any political ad ever has, but they also picked up masses of free airtime and made Mr Wellstone the only challenger to beat the incumbent. Give it your vote at:

There was a time all you had to do to get your backside safely in the power seat was kiss a few babies in front of the local newspaper photographer and munch your way through a couple of hundred chicken dinners. Now to get your message out there you have to blaze your name across the NFL and NASCAR and other major sporting events. Not at the actual stadiums of course, that would be far too 20th century for modern guys like Barack and friends. Four years ago, for instance, while you were racing your kids through their Play station 7 games, complete with mind control devices and hands-free cell phones, you might have noticed that the posters on the walls you kept smashing into were crammed with “It’s time for a change,” campaign message.
To hit the first time voter market the Obama-Biden ticket yet again  bought ad space inside nine of the world’s most popular titles produced by Electronic Arts, the world’s number one leading games publisher.
The Obama-Biden ads, which urged voters to cast their ballot early, formed part of the Democrat's campaign to drive young supporters to the polls. An EA spokeswoman confirmed that most of the players being targeted were men in the 16-32 age bracket, a group which although strongly favouring Obama, often choose not to vote.

Like a teenage son with a volume button The British National Party are a bunch of boors who believe they are the first rebels in the world. They pout, strut and posture all over the political landscape, spouting their silly, badly thought out, range of racial and misogynist slurs. Lately they’ve taken to riling the non-Christian element of society with their advertising.

Their most bizarre to date features a visual of Jesus Christ on a cross with the line, “If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you."
In an E-update, they’re quoted as saying: “The British National Party is the only political party which genuinely supports Britain's Christian heritage. It is the only party which will defend our ancient faith and nation from the threat of Islamification.”
Ironically the poster headline comes from John’s Gospel (John 15:20) and Jesus’ teachings about love.

The lobbying party “Making Poverty History,” a group which consists of some 530 different charities, succeeded where the BNP couldn’t and got itself banned from advertising on TV and Radio on the grounds that it was political.
This was even though the British Prime Minister praised the campaign, saying it was successful in convincing the G8 to write off more than $40 billion in debt.
Advertising watchdog Ofcom, however, said the goals of the campaign were political and therefore outlawed it. In case you were living in a Bono-free area, (and if so, please forward your address to me and expect lots of visitors), you can catch the ever appealing rock God at: or:

Back in 1979, when baby-kissing was still all the rage, Messer’s Saatchi & Saatchi produced a poster for the Conservative Party proclaiming “Labour isn’t working.” The poster was so effective for Margaret Thatcher that Lord Thorneycroft, Conservative party treasurer at the time, claimed that the poster had ‘won the election for the Conservatives’.
It’s certainly haunted political advertising briefings since then, nearly as much as the tiresome little git that wrote it.
Thirty years on, and with unemployment teetering over the psychologically important two million mark again, the Conservatives released an updated version, this time attacking Gordon Brown instead of Jim Callaghan. See if it still ticks the right boxes at:

Politics is all about who shouts loudest and as bellowing goes it would be hard to shout down my art director as she gets into full swing about all things political.
“Would it not be simpler,
If the Government
Dissolved the people
And elected another?”
Tightly wrapped, and more than a little tight, in her Woolies Melton coat, she expounds from her soap-box, well, beer covered table-top in the corner of The Brazen Head. Carelessly quoting Bertold Brecht and proving once again that advertising and politics do indeed make strange bed-fellows.

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