Social media to drive election campaigning

Quick response ads and social media activity are set to play a central role in the month of the general election campaign, according to observers.

Gordon Brown has asked for Parliament to be dissolved ahead of the election on 6 May, kick-starting four weeks of intense marketing by each of the political parties.

The Conservative Party has continued its above-the-line attacks on Labour with a poster campaign slamming Labour’s proposed increase in national insurance, which it has vowed to scrap.

Labour has unveiled its new poster, designed by a supporter, showing the Tory leader David Cameron as Ashes To Ashes character Gene Hunt with the line “Don’t let him take Britain back to the Eighties.”

The Tories called the Labour ad a “massive own goal” for depicting Cameron as “one of the most popular characters on British television”, while releasing a digital spoof that uses the strapline “Fire up the Quattro. It’s time for change.”

Paul Bainsfair, European chief executive of Iris, which created the “Labservative” campaign for the Lib Dems, says all three will increase social media activity as part of their “conversation” with the electorate. He adds there will also be an increase in the parties “mucking about” with each other’s ads in the digital arena.

Separately, the Conservative Party is set to continue its attack on Government and spending. A spokesman for the Tories says Shadow Cabinet Office Minister Francis Maude “will continue to highlight” the issue in the run up to the May poll.

The news follows Maude’s call for an end to all but “essential public safety campaigns” to ensure taxpayers’ money is not used for party political purposes.

The Tories claim Nielsen data shows COI spend increased from £30.2m in January to £35m in February in a “last-minute state-sponsored advertising blitz”.

If the Tories win, they have vowed to cut marketing spend to 1997 levels.

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