Meet the ridiculous David Cameron

I bet that Conservative Party communication planners didn’t imagine that the result of the billboards of David Cameron plastering poster sites up and down the country this week (click the thumbnail for the full image) is the soft backlash that has taken place.

Just about the only comment you’ll find online is ridicule over the obvious airbrushing of Cameron’s face.

Indeed, the ridicule has already prompted a number of parody websites that focus not only on the airbrushing but also on alternate messages about Cameron’s and his party’s policies if they win the general election that will happen sometime within the next five months.

In the best spirit of political mockery comes mydavidcameron.com, an excellent parody with a highly-amusing collection of user-generated content.

You can download a template (JPG image), create your own poster and upload it for display on the website.

On the face of it, the ridicule is pretty mild and I can’t see it being damaging in the long term. It does provide an alternate topic to talk about rather than the awful weather we’ve had in the past few weeks.

Yet it does illustrate a significant hurdle David Cameron – and every politician – has to overcome if he’s really to be taken seriously as the potential future leader of the UK: trust and being believed.

Rather, lack of trust and belief by the voter after scandals such as the MPs expenses last summer (and still ongoing). I don’t know about you but for me that was like icing on the cake of complete distrust and lack of belief in the whole lot of them.

The best assessment I’ve seen so far on the Cameron poster comes from branding expert Mary Portas writing in yesterday’s Telegraph, who begins:

If I were David Cameron, the first thing I would do is sack my advertising agency. The new poster is an utter disaster: it’s so obviously been airbrushed and he looks like a rosy-faced cherub, not a prospective prime minister. They were bonkers to do it, and he was a fool to let them. The very act of airbrushing is a deceit, whichever way you look at it, and for a politician to have that done says: “I’m not happy with the face I have and the face that I’m showing to you, the voters.”

The whole problem with politicians today is that we never believe a word that comes out of their mouths, and we don’t feel they understand us or our priorities. Presenting us with this fake, high-gloss image of perfection suggests that the Conservatives have little understanding of what’s going on in the real world.

And I did like Portas’ recommendation for positioning Cameron:

[…] Right now, if he were a supermarket, he’d be Somerfield, which doesn’t really impinge on anyone’s consciousness. It sells exactly the same ranges as everywhere else and isn’t particularly cheap, just very convenient. You pop into it because it’s there, not because you’re actively seeking it out – and you certainly wouldn’t rave to other people about what a fabulous retail experience you had there.

Cameron should be positioning himself as Waitrose, which has been built on quiet trust and consumer confidence that it’s delivering long-term quality. The high-risk introduction of its Essentials value line was a real coup that chimed with the mood of shoppers. Cameron needs to resonate with the electorate in the same way.

All of this, though, is part of the opening salvoes of the general election battle that’s coming.

I’m looking forward to an interesting political communication landscape in the coming months.

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Neville Hobson

Social Strategist, Communicator, Writer, and Podcaster with a curiosity for tech and how people use it. Believer in an Internet for everyone. Early adopter (and leaver) and experimenter with social media. Occasional test pilot of shiny new objects. Avid tea drinker.

  1. Geoffrey Woollard

    This nonsense serves the Conservative spin doctors right. I am likely to be standing as an independent in South East Cambridgeshire. I have a big nose (as did Oliver Cromwell). I have always had a big nose. Everybody knows I have a big nose. If I cut off (as in airbrushed) my nose, I would spite my public face. It would be only too obvious. What Cameron’s people have done is only too obvious. The rest of us know what the deer-stalking genuine article is. Cameron and his fox hunting, deer stalking, hare coursing clique of Hague, Herbert & Co. can run (with their airbrushers) but they can’t hide their unattractive but real ‘faces.’ We should see them without the airbrushers’ efforts – big noses and warts (as in Oliver Cromwell), bad policies and all.

  2. The Digital Week «

    […] It’s caused a storm politically, of course, with several Tory chaps criticising the government’s negative campaigning after Dave was ridiculed by Alistair Campbell’s Gordon Brown’s hilarious quips about airbrushing. But here on the interwebs we’re more interested in people mucking around with funny photos*, so mydavidcameron.com is right up our street (thanks to Neville Hobson for the heads-up). […]

  3. tom

    My david cameron have said they wont be satirising the next tory poster, knowing its had its day. Still, this hasnt the tories from making their own p-poor fake poster sites. What will be next? The posters have already been turned into a 3d game (http://www.politicalgaming.com) and other copy sites are springing up.

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