Political parties must be allowed to advertise on television and the current system of party political broadcasts (PPBs) should be abandoned, one of the principal architects of Michael Howard’s failed General Election campaign told Members of Parliament earlier this week.
He also said that the Conservatives’ slogan, “Are you thinking what we’re thinking?”, was not stolen from children’s television show Bananas in Pajamas.
Speaking about the General Election campaign publicly for the first time, Michael Moszynski, chief executive of Immediate Sales (IS), said: “PPBs are an historical anachronism and a throwback to the 1950s. Commercial companies can use TV to sell fatty foods to obese children or alcopops to binge drinkers, so why can’t we let people considering a somewhat more fundamental issue of who they want to run the country for the next five years be exposed to TV ads from political parties?”
At a House of Commons meeting organised by the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Advertising, Moszynski also defended his agency’s work for the Conservative Party against a number of criticisms.
Claims that the campaign was solely targeting existing Conservative supporters were completely wrong, Moszynski said. He maintained that the real objects of the campaign were the 2.5 million people in the 167 target seats who did not vote Conservative in 2001.
“Are you thinking what we’re thinking?” was developed out of Michael Howard’s acceptance speech when he became leader of the Conservative Party in October 2003, and was the idea on which IS based its presentation to Conservative Party marketing director Will Harris in January 2004, Moszynski added.
And far from being a disaster, according to Moszynski, the Tory campaign was a resounding success – in England at least, where a 1,350,000-vote Labour lead in 2001 became a 60,000-vote Conservative lead – though the vagaries of the first-past-the-post system ensured Labour won more seats.
IS is 80 per cent owned by M&C Saatchi.