Political marketing was a key factor in the 2005 campaign, but more for its ineffectiveness than for its success. The use of marketing techniques such as segmentation and targeting was prolific, however the extent to which the parties adopted the marketing concept was limited. The impact of Labour’s Big Conversation and ‘Team Labour’ campaign approach was always going to be hindered by Tony Blair’s perceived dismissal of party and voter opinion on the Iraq War and top-up fees; appointing a marketing director to work on the presentation rather than the design of policy, combined with a highly negative campaign, was never going to win the election for the Tories. The lessons of electoral history – and marketing – were proved right once again: only if parties fully embrace the marketing philosophy and comprehensively design their behaviour by reflecting and responding to public demand. Nevertheless the key to future success for UK parties is to bring back ideology: market-oriented politics should also include using party principles and leadership judgment in order to be able to produce a distinctive response to the public concerns that is both popular and credible.

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