Today (7 May 2015) marks the commencement of the first UK general election in five years, and by necessity, it looks to be perhaps the most closely fought election battle in recent history. With 7 leaders fighting for your vote this time around, it's a far more colourful election than ever before, and the complexities of the country's frankly antiquated 'first-past-the-post' voting system means that even now, voters are still probably umming and ahhing over who or what they will be casting their vote for today.
With so much to take in, it's almost impossible to see the wood for the trees sometimes
Making our minds up, it appears, is harder than ever before. This is largely down to the importance of the media in the modern campaigning process, with the past month especially reflecting this importance with a barrage of televised debates that have clocked up the kind of gossipy mileage usually reserved for celebrity breakups and Game of Thrones spoilers. It's also due, of course, to the sheer amounts of information we're being fed in this enlightened, technological age. With so much to take in, it's almost impossible to see the wood for the trees sometimes, especially when the information we're being given means almost nothing. Take Ed Milliband's bacon sandwich guffaw. One poorly timed photo caused a monumental backlash on social media and even on primetime TV. But then, if you're basing who you want to run this country on how they eat a sandwich, you're an idiot.
Despite the significant TV coverage, the 2015 election might well be the first UK election to have been won or lost online. This campaign appears to have seen, for example, the death of the election poster, with user-generated online content now getting to most traction amongst modern voters. Social media has also really gotten behind the hype, with all the major networks inspiring young voters to express their opinions using hashtags and sharing. Think how many articles you've seen on Facebook this past week being shared by your politically minded friends. Are many of these links you'd even consider following if it wasn't for the endorsement of your aquaintances?
The 2015 election might well be the first UK election to have been won or lost online
So the internet, and social media especially, is certainly changing the way we gather our Election intel, but is it going to change the results? That remains to be seen, but a significantly larger turnout is expected this year as apposed to 2010, despite the forgone conclusion that we'll be left with yet another Frankenstein's monster of a government whatever the weather. Is a more aggressive advertising push at least partially behind this? I'd like to think so, and to illustrate how heavily ad land has jumped behind the 2015 UK General Election, here I've gathered together a few relevant pieces that might just help swing the decision you make this afternoon when you head to your local polling station.
This adorable animated film was posted online by VCCP Kin (the social media and content marketing arm of VCCP) last week, and focuses on the election opinions that really matter – 7 year olds. VCCP Kin’s creative director Chris Lawson decided ask his 7 year old daughter, Amelia what she thought about the election, and it turns out that small people actually have some deceptively big thoughts on politics. The clip (below) visualises Amelia sharing her thoughts on politicians, how she would improve the education system and a bit of advice for the next government.
7 year old girl rants about politics by VCCP Kin
All of the parties this year have gone negative in a big way, but perhaps the lowest blow came from the Conservatives, who hired M&C Saatchi to make a well-aimed dig at Labour's supposed future kinship with the SNP (despite Ed Milliband's protestations). Whilst such a blatantly negative ad probably wouldn't gain much traction in “The real world,” both Ofcom and the Advertising Standards Authority can't control what happens online. It's a battleground with no rules and no regulations.
The Green Party came out as the overwhelming winner in a poll to find out which political party font people would vote for last week. Designer Sarah Hyndman conducted a survey to find out how people react to the typefaces from the major national party political logos. Hyndman, who recently published a book called “The Type Taster,” which looks at the emotional reactions that people have to typefaces,asked respondents to rank the party typefaces on reliability, honesty, positivity and other criteria. All typefaces and parties were anonymous in the survey, which was open to both designers and those without typographic experience. The Green Party led the poll with its Thesis Sans font, which picked up 36%of the overall vote. Labour (Paralucent) came second with 21%; the Tories (Lucida Sans) were third with 18%; the Lib Dems (FF Advent) were fourth with 15% and UKIP (Univers bold extended upper case) were fourth with 10%.
What's the choice in this election?
The video released by the Labour party last month is not big, clever or glamorous. In fact it couldn't be further removed from the satirical video produced by the Green Party, which showed parodic doppelgängers of the rival party leaders as members of a terrible boy band. It is more honest though, and as far as figureheads go, they couldn't have asked for a more reasonable face than that of Martine Freeman, of Sherlock, The Office, and The Hobbit fame. The fact that it features the voice of former Doctor Who star David Tennant doesn't hurt either. Personally, I'm more drawn to ads such as this, which focus on the issues and the heart of the party.
The video released by the Labour party last month is not big, clever or glamorous
What's the choice in this election?
That's not to say Labour hasn't resorted to shock tactics in the past though. Indeed, a shocking ad designed by Trevor Beattie of Beattie, McGuinness and Bungay (who is famous for creating controversial advertising campaigns), which can be seen below, and honestly left me a little cold. Still, the death of political advertising appears to have been greatly exaggerated, but whether or not that will hold true for the next election? Well that's up to you ad land!
AnalogFolk's “10 Downing Tweet”
AnalogFolk London has created a way to provide easily digestible information about the election, showing the public exactly which parties are being talked about throughout the day, on a 10 foot high replica of the iconic Number 10 door. By monitoring Twitter for use of the keywords people will naturally use in relation to each of the nine parties, including their names and their leaders, they will create a real time visual footprint of the organic digital conversation happening. This data will be displayed on the door as coloured triangles, with each one representing a tweet and using the distinctive colour of the party mentioned. Continually updating, this visualisation of live events will provide people with an accurate representation of the constantly changing political conversation around an event that will impact the whole country.
AnalogFolk London has created a way to provide easily digestible information about the election
“We wanted to create a way for people to engage with this year’s election” said Analogfolk London’s Associate Creative Director, Vikesh Bhatt. “By showcasing the data we collect in an easily digestible way, we aim to not only help foster further engagement in this incredibly important occasion, but also provide a clear, understandable image of the nations thoughts throughout it.”
Benjamin Hiorns is a freelance writer and musician from Kidderminster in the UK. He will be voting Labour because he agrees wholeheartedly with the idea of taxing the stuffing out of the mega rich.