Magazine article Marketing

Politics, Persuasion, and the Post

Magazine article Marketing

Politics, Persuasion, and the Post

Article excerpt


Politics, persuasion, and the post

Years ago I worked for Colman, Prentice & Varley, which handled advertising for the Conservatives during Harold Macmillan's "You've never had it so good" campaign. Ever since, the media have been very interested in political advertising -- perhaps because it's an enigma: nobody is sure to what degree it works. For instance, many think the last slick Labour Party campaign was in fact ineffectual.

However, direct marketing definitely works in politics. It has been used in the US for years, and came of age during the Eisenhower campaign, when very sophisticated tests of alternative messages were undertaken. Over here, progress has been slower. Perhaps the SDP used it first with any degree of sophistication, not merely to raise funds but also to establish which issues mattered to voters.

Well, we know what happened to the SDP. If the product isn't right, all the marketing in the world won't save it -- an interesting instance of the fact that the same principles apply to political as to commercial persuasion.

Thus, the Labour Party has learned that it gets much higher responses to mailing immediately after a by-election win. In commercial direct mail, we always find that when something is fresh in people's minds, it's a good time to hit them.

Although in some countries couponed advertising has been used quite a lot, most political direct marketing has majored on fundraising, particularly through direct mail. …

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