The message definitely isn’t medium…
Whether the UK Independence Party (UKIP) is a single-issue pressure group or a full-blown and genuine political force du jour, their ubiquity, momentum and opinion poll standings are at an all time high.
By common consensus, UKIP leader Nigel Farage boosted both his personal and his party’s profile with fairly one-sided maulings of Deputy Prime Minister, Nick Clegg, in the recent brace of televised debates over Britain’s membership of the European Union.
And with May’s European Elections on the horizon, Mr Farage is promising a ‘political earthquake’ if he triumphs in that vote, which the polls are roundly predicting he will.
UKIP’s burgeoning momentum has been maintained in no small part by April’s national advertising campaign. A campaign that certainly divided opinion but also proved, without question, that all publicity is good publicity. Especially within a crowded political media cacophony, where early-doors electioneering for next May’s General Election is also gathering a momentum of its own.
UKIP’s current brand identity positions the party somewhere between a pound shop and a bookmakers, with its discount purple-yellow stylings and pound sterling logo – it’s an identity that’s as simple and straightforward as Farage claims his policies are.
April’s £1.5m communications campaign was also simple and straightforward in its direct communication of UKIP’s message, and in communicating that message they were as effective as hell!
The billboard posters glowering down from nationwide city billboards are also supported online, in press ads and branded mobile trailers touring the highways and byways of Britain – they really cut to the chase too.
One shows a building labourer begging for money in the absence of employment opportunities. Another highlights the fact that UK taxpayers fund the ‘celebrity lifestyles’ of Eurocrats. Whilst yet another shows an escalator cutting up and through the white cliffs of Dover with a stark warning about the lack of UK border control.
“These posters are a hard-hitting reflection of reality as it is experienced by millions of British people struggling to earn a living outside of the Westminster bubble.” Was the ringing endorsement from Nigel Farage.
Elsewhere the campaign, UKIP’s largest ever, has been accused of, at worst, being “racist” by Labour MP Mike Gapes and more broadly, by numerous commentators, as a cynical tactic to literally scaremonger for votes.
The truth is probably a mixture of both – but more importantly it has to be acknowledged that the messaging is underpinned by an increasingly common-held view throughout the UK – that is a cold fact, look at UKIP’s poll ratings.
You may not like that the posters directly say what they are trying to say. In fact you may not like what they are saying at all, but they have been so effective in their honesty of message that it is almost like watching ‘how to get ahead in advertising’ made real.
Wherever you stand politically, it would be hard to argue that UKIP represent a force for good, but they are that rarest of political animals who really do say what they mean and mean what they say.
And in a British political landscape dominated by centre ground spin-doctoring and information management from the major party triptych, they would all do well to take note of how honesty really can connect as the best policy, even if that honesty of doctrine is an unpalatable one.