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1978: Tories recruit advertisers to win votes
The Conservative Party has recruited advertisers Saatchi & Saatchi to revamp its image and get its political message across ahead of the General Election.

The agency is expected to help portray the opposition leader Margaret Thatcher in a softer image and as being less strident than she is currently perceived.

Saatchi & Saatchi, the largest British-owned advertising company, will also help produce Conservative Party political broadcasts.

The company was recruited by Gordon Reece, the party's director of communications, who has a background in television and is expected to help mould Mrs Thatcher's appearance for broadcasting.

Advertisers have been given a free hand in which to cover this, it has been reported, but details have not been revealed.

Education, unemployment and taxes are all expected to be high on the Tory agenda in any fight against Labour.

Industry experts said the campaign would cost hundreds of thousands of pounds for the Conservative Party.

The move, given an election date has not yet been set, signals the Tories' readiness to fight a general election as Labour appears to be faltering in the polls.

Campaign criticised

Politicians both within the opposition and in Prime Minister Jim Callaghan's government have criticised the Tory stance in engineering an election campaign with advertisers, describing it as 'frivolous'.

But these have been shrugged-off by senior Tories as the strategy is one last used by the party successfully in the 1950s.

Saatchi & Saatchi is considered to be a formidable force in advertising.

Since the early 1970s the company headed by Maurice Saatchi, 30, and his brother Charles, 32, has risen from zero position on the advertising agency league table to become third largest in Britain.

The company's client list includes giants such as Procter & Gamble, British Leyland and Rowntree Mackintosh and Schweppes.

Saatchi & Saatchi made a particular breakthrough with the Health Education Council's account.

The Jeremy King-devised Pregnant Man poster captured the public's imagination.

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Tory election campaign poster, 1979
Industry experts say the campaign will cost hundreds of thousands of pounds



In Context
A new form of political advertising was created for the election campaign which was original, slick and a benchmark for the future.

The now infamous slogan 'Labour Isn't Working' was borne from it and is credited with helping the Tories to power in May 1979.

Labour had postponed the election until May 1979 by which time the 'Winter of Discontent' was in full swing and campaigning for voters took place against a back drop of strike action.

Saatchi & Saatchi later developed the slogan 'Labour Still Isn't Working' but it caused controversy when it was revealed its depiction of people queuing at the dole office was actually of actors.

Many were Tory workers and their images had been superimposed to give the illusion of hundreds of people, although in reality there were only about 20.

Stories From 30 Mar


 
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