BBC wins broadcasters’ battle by a landslide

With the general election finally over, and Labour storming home, Mike Gorman takes a look at the winners and losers from the ranks of advertisers and broadcasters battling for our attention. Mike Gorman is media director of Saatchi & Saatchi

At 10.46pm on May 1, Sunderland South came first in the race to declare its MP for the new Parliament.

The portents were right for a Labour landslide and the elected candidate was none other than Chris Mullins, author of A Very British Coup. Fiction became fact before our eyes.

In the broadcasters’ election, it was a landslide for non-commercial broadcasting. The BBC had the lethal combination of Jeremy Paxman, Anthony King and David Dimbleby on BBC1, and Steve Coogan and Armando Iannucci on BBC2. It managed to trounce the others just as it had done in that other great national event Euro 96.

BARB’s results for share of all adults between 22.00pm and 01.00am were as follows: BBC 1 43.7 per cent, ITV 24.3 per cent, BBC2 13.5 per cent, C4 9.4 per cent, C5 1.5 per cent, and others 7.6 per cent.

Overall though, the election coverage across all the TV channels seemed remarkably similar – virtual reality maps, swingometers and lots of outside broadcasts. Light entertainment was provided by Sky News who played Mike and the Mechanics’ Over My Shoulder – “I never dreamed it could be over, I never wanted to say goodbye” as background music to a rogues gallery of former ministers.

But who won the election in the advertising world? The Lever ad for Domestos, offering the toilet seat as the “safest seat in the house” was a nice try. B&Q’s “Open all night if you want to change the colour of your front door” was also amusing. Courts came up with “Get 25 per cent off your furniture if you’re about to move in to Number 10”.

I would also like to make just one plug for an ad produced by Saatchi & Saatchi (pictured) for the personal attention of John Major (and of course M&C Saatchi).

We all know that marketing budgets are pressured and that tactical ideas that don’t have a strategic thought should be dismissed as wasteful, but it didn’t stop clients flocking to join the ratecard rush on May 2 to share their election humour with the rest of us.

Media people love being involved in these kinds of options for tactical placement and wish there was more.

But I wonder which 50 per cent of the advertising budget, as immortalised by Lord Leverhulme, these ads came from?


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