How to judge the success of an advertising campaign while wearing a leaky hat

Related Topics
When Labour won the election in May (more than six months ago! that means it's only a bit more than four years to go to the next election!) they were jubilant, as well they might be.

"We've done it!" they cried. "We've actually done it!"

But done what?

It has always struck me as curious when a party greets an election victory as an achievement, or a performance, or a valiant deed, because the party itself has done nothing - it is the electors who have done the hard work. Oh yes, the party has done the campaigning, the promising and the talking, but that is not what parties are primarily for: parties are for governing and running a place. It is what happens after an election that matters, not before. It's just that you just wouldn't think so from the way the winning party shout: We've done it!

In a funny sort of way, the Tories got it right. When the size of their election defeat became clear, they handed it to Labour for the way they had fought the campaign. Brilliant strategy ... great image-building ... wonderful communication - all this the Tory party conceded admiringly. They never said they thought that New Labour would be good at forming a government and running the place, only that they were good at winning elections. It was like an advertising agency applauding an advertising campaign run by a rival agency.

What do I mean - it was like it? It was exactly the same! When it comes to an election, each party is an advertising agency. We bought the Labour slogans, and we bought the product. The product sounded good, and sounded hopeful. It sounded as if it would work better than the old model, the Tory one that we had been using for 13 years, and which was getting chipped and rusty and was developing strange rattles. Better to trade the old Tory model in for the New Labour model ...

And now that has been done, and the first signs are beginning to appear that when they got the New Labour model out of the box, and plugged it in and started it working, it had a few strange rattles as well. Well, madam, of course there are - it's a new model and it needs to run itself in; you always get a few strange noises with a new government; after all, it's bound to squeak a bit if it's squeaky clean! No, seriously ...

But it happens all the time. We are always falling in love with an image and then running up against the reality.

Not so very long ago my wife got an Orange telephone because she was working for a month in a place where there was no public phone. Fine. Then she brought it home. This wasn't such a good move. In the valley where we live you can't receive or send messages on Orange phones, so it became useless. We wrote to Orange explaining why we would like to discontinue our use of an Orange phone. After a while they wrote back, saying they had been trying to phone us, but with no luck ...

Virgin is another firm with a shiny reputation, but when my wife and I booked a transatlantic flight with them this summer, we had an extremely disappointing trip (food running out before everyone had been fed, etc, etc).

Yes, I know everyone says how good their experience with Virgin has been - I can only tell you what happened to me, and that is what most of us relate to.

For instance, when I bought an Australian Driza-Bone hat ("the legend of the bush") during a wet visit to Wales, I was quite prepared for it to start letting the rain in one day, sooner or later. What I didn't expect was for it to become sodden and start leaking on my head the very first time I wore it. It has leaked ever since, so that I now only wear my Australian Driza-Bone hat when it is sunny, which is somewhat self-defeating.

Nor, recently, after I took my trusty old Saab to the Saab garage for an expensive service, did I expect the trusty old Saab to completely seize up a couple of days later, especially not at 1am on the outskirts of Cheltenham ...

Maybe I have just had a run of bad luck.

Maybe the god of humorists is putting a few duff experiences my way as what he thinks is great material for an article or two.


Personally, I blame the Government.

The Comment Editor apologises for inadvertently reprinting Miles Kington's Monday column in yesterday's editions.

React Now

  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Installation and Service / Security Engineer

£22000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company is part of a Group...

Recruitment Genius: Service Charge Accounts Assistant

£16000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you a a young, dynamic pers...

Cancer Research UK: Corporate Partnerships Volunteer Events Coordinator – London

Voluntary: Cancer Research UK: We’re looking for someone to support our award ...

Ashdown Group: Head of IT - Hertfordshire - £90,000

£70000 - £90000 per annum + bonus + car allowance + benefits: Ashdown Group: H...

Day In a Page

Read Next

Errors & Omissions: Outgunned by a lack of military knowledge

Guy Keleny
Ukip leader Nigel Farage in Tiny Tim’s tea shop while canvassing in Rochester this week  

General Election 2015: What on earth happened to Ukip?

Matthew Norman
General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

Marginal Streets project documents voters

Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

The real-life kingdom of Westeros

Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

How to survive a Twitter mauling

Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

At dawn, the young remember the young

A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

Follow the money as never before

Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

Samuel West interview

The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence
Public relations as 'art'? Surely not

Confessions of a former PR man

The 'art' of public relations is being celebrated by the V&A museum, triggering some happy memories for DJ Taylor
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef succumbs to his sugar cravings with super-luxurious sweet treats

Bill Granger's luxurious sweet treats

Our chef loves to stop for 30 minutes to catch up on the day's gossip, while nibbling on something sweet
London Marathon 2015: Paula Radcliffe and the mother of all goodbyes

The mother of all goodbyes

Paula Radcliffe's farewell to the London Marathon will be a family affair
Everton vs Manchester United: Steven Naismith demands 'better' if Toffees are to upset the odds against United

Steven Naismith: 'We know we must do better'

The Everton forward explains the reasons behind club's decline this season
Arsenal vs Chelsea: Praise to Arsene Wenger for having the courage of his convictions

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Praise to Wenger for having the courage of his convictions