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Last Updated: Friday, 29 April, 2005, 15:13 GMT 16:13 UK
Parties go for hi-tech canvassing
Tony Blair
Tony Blair takes his election campaign to the pavements
As the election race hots up, so do the attempts by all the political parties to reach new voters.

Along with the traditional flyer and advertising campaigns, fresh methods for 2005 include iPod downloads, text canvassing, free DVDs and CD-ROMs.

The SNP have Sir Sean Connery leaving phone messages, the Lib Dems have opted for giving away computer discs while the Tories are hand-delivering DVDs.

Bucking the trend are Labour, going back to basics with street campaigning.

Advertising consultant Chris Wallace, of Edinburgh-based firm Barkers, praised those parties trying something different.

However, he was sceptical of how successful each of the canvassing methods would be.

The Conservative Party has been hand delivering a personal DVD to voters - a method campaign director Mark McInnes says has resulted in a good response.

He said: "I think it is important in this era where a lot of people feel politically disengaged to use media that most appeals to people.

"We have had a lot of positive comment, even from people who wouldn't before have considered voting Conservative."

It's pretty obvious you are listening to a tape recording of Sir Sean Connery, not the man himself
Chris Wallace
Advertising consultant

But Mr Wallace said the challenge for the party would be to motivate voters to sit down and watch the DVD they hand them.

"My own personal take is that they will have to put a bit more sugar on the pill to make people take it, play it and engage with it - maybe if they put in some freebies of cinema trailers or free music like newspapers give away," he said.

The Scottish National Party has favoured a cold calling campaign championed by long-time supporter Sir Sean Connery.

The 35-second pre-recorded message begins: "Hello there. This is Sean Connery.

"No, it's not a joke - unfortunately the real joke is the Labour Party."

'Easy format'

But Mr Wallace was sceptical of what effect the actor's calls would make to voters.

He said: "It's pretty obvious you are listening to a tape recording of Sir Sean Connery, not the man himself.

"The man himself doing it is extremely powerful. To me though, it seems counter-productive.

"Like most people, when I get home my answer machine is full of messages telling me I've just won a prize and these things get instantly deleted.

"I would imagine a message from Sir Sean on my answer machine would get the same treatment."

Pete Wishart, Nationalist campaign director, countered: "The feedback that we've had has been quite remarkable and we have had thousands of calls from people who are interested in joining the SNP on the back of this."

Ballot paper
What impact will canvassing methods have on polling day?

The Liberal Democrats carry an election broadcast on the party website and a CD-ROM is included in replies to any correspondence received from members of the public.

Iain Smith, MSP and campaign convener, said: "The CD-ROM is relatively straight-forward and is there to provide people with large documents in an easy format and we have other innovative ideas on our websites."

However, Mr Wallace was unimpressed.

He said: "I can't see that it is anything other than an activists' help pack. For those already converted, it gives information on how to spread the message further.

"It's not about engaging a voter."

Meanwhile, the Labour Party has been getting back to basics with traditional street hustings, inviting people to join in pavement discussions.

Party spokesman Ken MacIntosh said: "We wanted to get in touch with those we call the 'difficult to reach' voters. We sent out letters saying a meeting will be happening on a local street corner and invite people to come along and meet the candidate."

Mr Wallace gave his backing to the street level approach.

He said: "The buzz at the moment is all about brand experience and how you can get people to test that and to tempt them into a trial.

"To me that leads you in the future to things like reality TV shows and does, ironically, bring you back to going round knocking on doors."

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