Ed Miliband announced yesterday (5 Jan) that the party will focus on local-level engagement to lead Labour’s campaign. He said: “We will win this election, not by buying up thousands of poster sites, but by having millions of conversations.”
The statement is in tune with Labour’s marketing activity throughout the year, which claims that the party is fighting to protect the interests of working people.
The Labour leader’s statement is a response to the Conservative party’s first election campaign poster, which was revealed on 2 January, with the slogan “Let’s stay on the road to a stronger economy”.
The two parties will focus on their respective strengths with Labour focusing on public services and the preservation of the NHS and the Conservative’s promising the keep the nation on the road to economy recovery.
Despite Miliband’s statement, Labour has launched two poster campaigns of its own. One of the posters, released 4 January, depicts a picture of David Cameron with the slogan “The Tories want to cut spending on public services back to the levels of the 1930’s, when there was no NHS”.
Emily Hunt is Simpson Carpenter’s head of strategic insight and innovation and an expert in political research across the US and UK.
She says: “I agree with Miliband that this is a campaign for the doorstep, but the party with the right segmentation, the right use of data, the right way of organising is going to be way ahead and not by just knocking on doors at random.”
In 2012, the Obama administration used data collected from its campaign app to target under 29-year-old’s, which proved to be successful among the group. The data was used from campaign app-owners Facebook friends lists. Facebook has since announced that it would change its policy to restrict similar actions since April (2014).
The opposition parties have both used Obama administration strategists with Labour hiring chief campaign strategist David Axelrod in April 2014 and the Tories working with Jim Messina, the Obama administrations campaign manager in August 2013.
Does budget matter?
Labour’s decision to focus on local may be based on its financial position in comparison to the Conservatives. Labour’s election coordinator, Douglas Alexander revealed that the Tories will outspend Labour by 3 to 1 in the general election, in his Guardian opinion piece (2 Jan).
This may suggest that Labour’s move, which focuses on door-to-door campaigning, may have more to do with financial practicality than improving discourse with local people.
Benedict Pringle, a political advertising blogger, questions if Labour’s budget will matter in the end. With the Conservative party often out-spending Labour in previous elections, it is not clear whether a big budget makes a difference in who people decide to vote for.
He says: “They are fighting slightly different battles, when you look at the use of campaign money for advertising versus campaigning on the ground, it’s hard to actually say which is more effective.”
In the 2010 election campaign the parties spent £31.1 million with Conservatives accounting for 53% of the total, and spending £16.6 million, while Labour spent 25% the total with £8 million.