The UUP’s party political broadcast was appalling. Why so bad?
The PEB answers at least one question: how do you travel down the road of change so imperceptibly as to appear at rest?
The dark wood table, hardback tomes on Carson, long lingering shots of the Union flag, the non sequitor cutaway of Reg walking to nowhere in particular, and a staid, tired old monologue to camera. Then comes the monotonous, dreadful, fuzzy script that veered one way and then another. And check out the sighing Fred Cobain at 1min 50sec – he can barely keep his eyes open. My god this is dull.
But for Staff at Bobballs, it is wrong to write this off as an ineffective broadcast. Consider whom the architects of this piece were playing to? The intended audience was the UUP’s core vote/branch member (over 55, naturally conservative but fiercely independently minded). This was about reassurance for them.
So the rationale behind the ‘why’ is understandable. But it still was a mistake to broadcast in this way.
The PEB went out 24 hours ahead of the UUP/Cameron conference and it sets a tone for the conversation the UUP wants to have with the electorate. So when the UUP was on the cusp of a brave new departure (what Dave called a ‘modern, outward-looking, inclusive, compassionate Conservative and Unionist party for the 21st century’) it tried to do it with flags and Carson.
What about the psychology behind the ‘why’? Perhaps all these theatrics might suggest that the Party is lacking in confidence. It references its future but is more comfortable talking over its past. The PEB’s historical contextualising lasts for more than half this broadcast. Despite the unanimous Executive their dominant strategy is underpinned by caution, even nerviness.
The UUP must revisit and dissect the thinking behind their broadcast. They must ask themselves, how could we have done this better?
The conference will plaster over the cracks of this broadcast. But they cannot rely on a star turn every once in a while to carry this merger. The UUP must sell this deal – but not like this. Surely UUP broadcasts can never again look like this again.