Forget youth and focus on policies, Tony

There is more than a tinge of irony in the fact that your recent coverage of political parties’ branding focused on youth appeal (MW February 28).

The biggest brand, New Labour, is unashamedly youth oriented. Labour has literally taken on new clothes and language in order to establish broader appeal. The problem for young voters is that there is no fulfilment on the brand promise.

The other irony is that the older you are the more likely you are to vote. The rule of thumb is that 20 per cent of 20-year-olds vote, 30 per cent of 30-year-olds vote and so on. And although it is unlike politicians to seize an opportunity, it is obvious that political grandees have been brainwashed by the lure of producing youth campaigns aimed at less profitable markets in the same way that most marketers ignore the rapidly expanding, cash-rich over-50s sector.

However, there is an easy solution to branding for both political parties and marketers alike. It’s called inclusivity. Because a large proportion of the population between the ages of 50 and 65 have similar lifestyles and buying habits of those 30 and even 40 years younger, you target messages at the mature sector, which cascade down demographically.

Unfortunately this does not work in reverse. This is because the mature sector seeks value and benefit whereas campaigns aimed at younger sector are based on branding and image. You cannot push messages up the demographic ladder, and in terms of political communications this is not a bad thing. Let’s face it, when politicians talk to us we would rather hear about value and benefit than spin.

Martin Smith

Managing director


Shipley, West Yorkshire and London

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