Friday, July 1, 2011

Romney revives Torys' "Labour's Not Working" ad

London ad agency learned they "had to change the product" in 1979 campaign

Washington – In the general strike of 1979, the rotting dead of Liverpool had lain unburied for as long as 10 days while the city's grave diggers angled for a 9% raise.

Under the Labourite government, unemployment had risen to alarming proportions and the UK was known as “the sick man of Europe” due to inflationary currency practices and a tendency to band-aid systemic economic crises.

And then a team of pitch men gained the ear of the prime movers and shakers in the nation's conservative Tory Party.

It was one of those single-issue campaigns with a catchy slogan that turned the socialistic tide and put merry old England back on track, according to the conventional wisdom. And, after all, is there any other kind of wisdom save the conventional?

The concept was so direct and so simple, it had just the kind of devastating impact all such ideas do.

A photo or a video of long lines of people standing in squalid surroundings and waiting – waiting and waiting – for unemployment benefits, health care, groceries, housing assistance – whatever.

And then the punch line, the slogan, the kicker, the one that got their attention.

“Labour isn't working.”

Yeah. It's not hard to hold a thought of that type when you can look around yourself where you stand with many thousands of your neighbors in a line that snakes around the block – out in the cold - on the filthy sidewalk beside a soot-stained brick wall while you wait for a socialist government to come to your rescue.

And then you wait some more.

Be that as it may, now comes Mitt Romney, a rock-ribbed Massachusetts fund manager and Republican governor front running for the GOP nomination and asks the same question posed so long ago by a certain Mr. Roberts of the ad agency Saatchi & Saatchi, the man who taught Margaret Thatcher that it pays to advertise.

As Mr. Roberts recalls, the Wilson government was not disposed to even converse with ad agency types. It just wasn't done, he recalls.

But Mrs. Thatcher, well, there was one housewife who viewed the problem as would any sensible lady with a plumbing problem. Stand back and let the man get on with the job; have done with it, and let the workman work.

Job one, the salesmen learned, was that they had to change the product, make it more attractive and to seem at least useful to the consumer, the men and women who would be casting their ballots to select a new government.

New and improved means that what you've got is old – and inferior.

Mr. Romney's revival of the Thatcher ad's extremely pragmatic economic concept has caused quite a sensation in conservative circles. The press suddenly worke up to the issue. Ink and video has blossomed worldwide, especially in the U.S.

“Obama isn't working,” reads a mocked-up advertisement on the Romney campaign's website.

The blog maintains that the original Thatcher ad was “the poster of the century.”

His managers note that “Those conditions and the public discontent throughout the country during that election and the parallels that Americans face today cannot be ignored.

“With 9.1 percent unemployed, record deficits, a soaring national debt, and millions of struggling families, one thing is clear. Obama isn't working, either,” the weblog concludes.

The campaign uses the president's own words against him by inserting a February 2009 video in which Mr. Obama said if he had not turned the country around within 3 years, he would be a one-term president.

And that's all there was to it. Sit down at the computer, bat out an ad, write a weblog entry, and hyperlink it to other sites all over the map for what is called “search engine optimization.”

The Republicans are catching on. No doubt.

Here we go.


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