Political Marketing & the UK Election: Reaching the Political Consumer, London, February 2005 

The Political Marketing Group Conference attracted over 80 delegates, and involved support from outside bodies such as the Electoral Commission, Hansard Society, the BBC Politics Show, Dods Parliamentary Communications, and Bournemouth University’s Centre for Public Communication Research. Speakers included Nick Robinson Political Editor for ITV News, the Assistant Editor of the BBC’s Politics Show; the Head of Labour’s Political Strategy, the Deputy Director of the Conservative Research Department, the National Campaigns Officer from the Liberal Democrats, and Will Harris former Marketing Director for the Conservative Party. We also attracted new academics, and delegates from many different countries. We were particularly pleased that we met our target of a 50:50 split between academics and practitioners. The timetable and programme mixed academic and practitioner presentations, sometimes on the same panel, and both academic and practitioner delegates all spoke of how beneficial this was. For example:

‘I enjoyed the conference and thought it well organised, lively and benefiting from a good range of speakers and participants’ (Ben Marshall, Research Manager, The Electoral Commission)

‘I also wanted to say how much I enjoyed my session. For me it was good to do some thinking about what we do for our members around the findings from Sue’s research and the academic approach/thinking in Declan’s presentation. So thank you for inviting me.’ (Labour Party Project Development manager)

‘Really was an excellent couple of days’ (Grant Thoms, SNP)

 Timetable and papers

Conference delegate list


Outline of papers and speakers

The state of the political product offered by the three main UK parties

‘It’s their party and they’ll cry if they want to: a critical assessment of the Labour and Conservative product from the eye of the voter’; Jenny Lloyd (UWE) and Dr. Jennifer Lees-Marshment (Centre for Political Marketing and Management, Keele University)

‘One Niche or Two? The Liberal Democrats and the 2005 general election’, Dr. Andrew Russell (Manchester University)

Response and rebuttal invited from the three parties

Listening and responding to voters

Greg Cook, Head of Political Strategy, Labour Party; Dominic Schofield, Deputy Director of the Research Department, Conservative Party; Duncan Borrowman, National Campaigns Officer, Liberal Democrats, Dr Roger Mortimore from MORI

Future Party strategy: the marketing options for smaller parties and parties at the local level

‘The Political Market Orientation of Local Party Organisations,’ Robert Ormrod, Danish Social Liberal Party’s election planning team and advisor

‘Political Marketing: the Road to Electoral Success or to Electoral Backlash? – An Analysis of Necessary Conditions for Political Marketing to be Effective,’ Dr Jesper Strömbäck & Dr Lars Nord, Centre for Political Communication Research, Sweden       

Electoral Commission workshop Getting the public involved in politics

Ben Marshall, Electoral Commission

Professor Ivor Gaber, Goldsmiths

Followed by workshop

Internal markets

‘Internal Marketing and Political Marketing’ Declan Bannon, University of Paisely

‘Internal consumers – what makes your party members join your election effort,’ Dr. Sue Granik, Visiting Research Associate, London School of Economics Kamlesh Karia, Political Development Project Manager, Labour Party

Hansard Society workshop Parliament and the people

Declan McHugh, Hansard Society;

‘No longer strangers? How Holyrood and Westminster can reach and engage their publics’ Dr. Jennifer Lees-Marshment (Centre for Political Marketing) and Barry Winetrobe (Glasgow)

followed by group discussion

Open Plenary: Political marketing in practice: the potential and problems

Will Harris Director of Marketing for the Conservative Party 2003-4, former marketing director for O2 and current marketing business consultant

David Evans, former Labour AGS and currently Managing Director of the Campaign Company  

Consumption: the motivations of voters

‘Participatory consumption and its consequences for election engagement,’ Richard Scullion, Bournemouth University Media School

‘The Complex Nature of Political Consumption,’ Peter Reeves, Prof. Leslie de Chernatony, Dr. Marylyn Carrigan, Centre for Research in Brand Marketing, Birmingham University  

IT and political marketing: Can IT help parties reach new political consumers?

Sheridan WestLake, Editor conservatives.com;

Mark Pack, Internet and Communications Officer, Liberal Democrats;

“Automated Voice Messaging – is the UK ready for ‘blasting’?” Grant Thoms, SNP  

Theoretical approaches to Political Marketing Communication

‘Thinking about the narrative dimension of political marketing,’ Antónia Cristina Perdigão, Assistant Professor, Instituto Superior de Psicologia Aplicada, Portugal

 ‘The limits of political marketing? Managing the fear factor,’ Professor Barry Richards, Professor of Public Communication, Bournemouth University

‘Theorising the Political audience / the citizen: considerations on the implications of political marketing for democracy’ Dr. Neil Washbourne ( Leeds Metropolitan University)

Roundtable: Lessons for the UK from the US Election

Dr. Jonathan Knuckey, Assistant Professor, University of Central Florida

Dr. Jesper Strömbäck, Centre for Political Communication Research/Mid Sweden University, Sweden

CPCR Panel: Marketing Communications: talking to and with the consumer Political Communication Group, the Centre for Public Communication, Bournemouth University

‘Political Advertising – why not use it wisely in 2005?’ (Richard Scullion);

‘The local dimension – peripheral or integral?’ (Darren G Lilleker); ‘

The internet – interactive narrowcasting or broadcast shovelware?’ (Nigel Jackson); ‘

Integrated communications: campaigning communication in context’

(Discussant: Mark Passera)

Debate: Failing democracy in the UK: the fault of politicians, the media or political marketing?

Nick Robinson, Political Editor for ITV News; Joanna Carr, Assistant Editor, The Politics Show