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“When they go low, we go high.” Michelle Obama

“When they go low, we go high.” Michelle Obama

Rae Burdon
May 02, 2022

At Reform Political Advertising, most of us are advertising people. We’re doing what we’re doing because we don’t like the way that politicians use (or abuse) advertising to make what are frequently highly misleading statements. Election advertising isn’t regulated, which means that politicians can say what they like, whereas in debate or interviews, those statements would be challenged. Last time we looked, there was no Robert Peston pop-up alongside an election ad that’s delivering a porkie. 

But it’s not just the injustice of this regulatory gap that irritates us. It’s the curious decisions of those exploiting it. As advertising people, we try to build, or help to build, a certain reputation for those brands we work for. We watch especially what the competition is up to, where they are headed, what people think of them, where they succeed and fail. Are we quicker to the market? Do our products deliver better than theirs? Do we communicate better? How do we distinguish ourselves from them?

We wonder if anyone in the Labour party asks these questions. At a time when the competition is all over the place like a mad person’s breakfast, why do they fail to carpe the damn diem? Why, when the competition goes low, do the Labour party follow them?

To illustrate, one of the first ads we see in the wake of Conservative party disarray is the one above, making the claim that the cost of living increases amount to £2,620 per household. Whereupon Full Fact debunk the claim thoroughly, pointing out that the number is closer to £700. Still not exactly good, but why lie when not only is there no need to, but you also miss a golden opportunity to capitalise in a smarter way? And then there’s the one below, which makes the claim ‘Conservative councils cost you £330 more than Labour councils’. They do? Where? For what? It may even be accurate, but If such a claim was made in a commercial context (‘Sony televisions cost you £330 more than Panasonic televisions’) do you think that there might be some regulatory questions about the basis of such a claim? 

Some of those who read this might reasonably point to similar transgressions by the Conservative and other parties and of course they are right and we have written about those, too. But that’s not the point. We know the Conservative party place in this context and right now. It just seems bizarre that Labour Party advertising suggests that they wish to join them there.

To help to put an end to ‘lies for votes’, go to our ‘Take action’ page where you can sign a petition, email your MP, send us some money (now there’s an idea) – anything at all that will help us loosen the government’s grip on the untenable.

Or you can always do nothing, which is a vote for lies.

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