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Political Campaign Ads – Bizarre, Boastful & Bewildering

Political Campaign Ads – Bizarre, Boastful & Bewildering

By Peter Jackson Eastwood and Emily Burditt

Here at The PHA Group, there’s nothing we love more than an integrated campaign. So it’s only right that we pay tribute to the weird and the wonderful of the political media world with our Top 10 Political Campaign Ads:

10 – Votin’

Brexit has dragged up all manner of anger, frustrations, fears and insecurities. But nothing – and I mean absolutely nothing – comes close to this atrocity. Where to begin? The irony of spelling learnin’ wrong? The fact that as a 21-year-old who is presumably the prime demographic for this steaming pile of cringe I (Peter) know that the letter ‘g’ exists and even indulge in usin’ it when I write? I don’t know but please don’t make me talk about it anymore.

Typin’, Watchin’, Groanin’, Hatin’, Ratin’ (-1000/10), Turnin’, off.

9 – Ivan Massow – Invite Ivan

You know what Ivan? I get this. I totally get it. You want to know what makes Londoners tick and you want to engage with a whole range of communities. What better way than going to meet them and going to talk to them? But here’s the thing, maybe that’s where this should have stopped. Meeting with the public? Great. Engaging with them? Fantastic. Listening to them? Sensational! Living with them? Abandon ship/Lock the door/Run for the hills.

1/10 – A nice idea executed with all the finesse of a pig using chopsticks.

8 – Joni Ernst – Castrating Hogs

A scene from Simon Danczuk’s most intimate, sobering nightmares. A monstrosity that is enough to make anyone shiver, but it holds particular horror for any men watching – so don’t feel guilty if you emitted an involuntary high-pitched squeal, even if that is exactly what Joni wants. You can clearly see Beelzebub dancing in Joni’s pale, merciless eyes as she utilises telepathy in a vicious attempt to castrate anyone watching. If Joni comes up on your tinder, swipe left before she devours your soul.

666/10 – We at The PHA Group do not endorse satanic ritual, under any circumstance.

7 – Lyndon B Johnson – ‘Daisy’

A haunting ad from the Cold War. The camera zooms in on the eyes of an innocent child before cutting to a nuclear explosion. Brexiteers might moan about Project Fear but as far as scaremongering goes this takes the biscuit. The only problem with this ad is that it’s about President Johnson – a man famed for allegedly exposing his manhood to white house staff, foreign dignitaries and just about anyone who was within watching distance.  Also worth noting that his military decisions spawned the famous song – ‘Hey, hey LBJ, how many kids have you killed today?’

4/10 – Controversial but powerful. It’s just a shame that it’s attributed to a maniac who delighted in flashing everyone – thank goodness American Politics is so mundane these days in comparison…

6 – Ted Cruz – The Senator who saved Christmas

There are a multitude of things to distrust Ted Cruz for. If he had his way the Middle East would probably be getting carpet bombed out of existence with exploding bible extracts right now. But as distasteful and divisive as his foreign and domestic policy ideas might be, it is those horrible, shifty eyebrows that make Cruz truly unsettling. Disturbing facial features aside, this is an excellent ad. Bonus points for ‘The Grinch who lost her emails’ and ‘Rudolph the underemployed Reindeer’.

5/10 – Should it be higher? I know we shouldn’t discriminate just because it’s Ted Cruz, but we are doing anyway (If anyone should be understanding of discrimination after all, it is Ted). I’d sooner spend my Christmas in Dante’s inferno than with the slimy senator.

5 – Hillary Clinton – Attack ad on Donald Trump

Trump may think he can walk all over Hillary, but he could be in for a nasty shock. This inventive clip shows other prominent Republicans including: Ted Cruz, Mitt Romney and Jeb Bush laying into Trump. The only problem is that, if anything, it’s rather too kind to him. ‘A race-baiting, xenophobic religious bigot’? I have a feeling Donald will take that as flattery rather than an insult.

6/10 – Cunning to use Trump’s own party against him – things look like they are about to get seriously tasty in the presidential race. Not quite as cutting as we would like though – up the savagery Hillary!

4 – Donald Trump – attack ad on Hillary Clinton

Spare a thought for Hillary Clinton. As if being savaged by Ted Cruz at Christmas wasn’t enough, global barometer of morality Donald Trump is now sticking the boot in as well. Not content with labelling her ‘Crooked Hilary’, he has launched a series of withering attacks on the Democrat frontrunner (the barking clip just won’t go away). Inappropriate and childish, but come on, what else did you expect?

6.1/10 – Trump might be one of the worst people to walk the earth, but he knows how to put simple, memorable content out there. After winning the Democrat nomination, Hillary has plenty more of this to look forward to.

3 – Mike Gravel and his Rock

Stone-faced Mike Gravel, delivering a gritty message as he drops a rock into some water. We certainly think he made a splash.

7/10 – Is Mike’s message sinking in yet?

2 – Dwight Eisenhower – ‘I Like Ike’ 

Cruelly, foolishly, despicably overlooked by your favourite PHA bloggers for the Public Affairs top 10 political campaign songs. Well unlike most politicians, we don’t mind saying sorry when we get something wrong (Pub legend/nutty geezer/West Ham fanatic/perennial non-apologiser Davey C – I’m looking at you). So, we’re sorry. But really we did you a favour – once you’ve heard this delightful little number you’ll be bopping along to it for the rest of the week.

9.9/10 – ‘Ike for president, Ike for president, Ike for president…’

1 – The Green Party – #GrownUpPolitics

We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again. The Green Party really are a cut above when it comes to political comedy and the quality of their content is getting better and better. It’s impossible to pick a favourite moment but our highlights are: Boris on his tricycle (I’m Prime Minister!), Jeremy’s nasty shadow cabinet (Put the rockets away) and, of course, lonely Tim Farron.

10/10 –Sensational. If the Green Party maintain their current trajectory they will win the 2020 general election off the back of the first ever political musical released in major cinemas.

Brits on the fence: what will clinch the Brexit referendum?

By Arvin Khanchandani


David Cameron Brexit Speech Referendum

Image courtesy of Brett Jordan,


Just two months ago, in September, 55% of the public wanted Britain to stay in the European Union, according to a poll conducted by ORB for the Independent. However, last week, the poll figures indicated that the tides are turning: currently, 52% of Brits are in favour of the United Kingdom leaving the European Union. This is the first time the ORB’s survey has shown a majority for ‘Brexit’.

The momentum is clearly with the two ‘out’ campaigns – Leave.EU and Vote Leave – which have started merger negotiations to establish a single, robust campaign championing ‘Brexit’. In contrast, the dominant ‘in’ campaign – Britain Stronger in Europe – has been comparatively underfunded and criticised for focusing on the negative consequences of a potential ‘Brexit’, rather than highlighting the benefits the UK enjoys from its EU membership.

So, with ‘Brexit’ increasingly becoming a tangible reality, what will determine the outcome of the referendum?

Which model?

The main challenge for the ‘out’ campaigns is to convince the public that, in the event of ‘Brexit’, the UK will still have the access to the EU single market, while enjoying greater control over socio-political issues important to Brits, such as immigration and border control. However, these two goals are contradictory in nature as the single market encompasses all ‘four freedoms’ of goods, people, services and capital. In this context, it will be crucial for the ‘out’ campaign to present a coherent message about what relationship they envisage Britain having with the EU if it decides to leave.

A possible option would be to follow European Economic Area (EEA) members – Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway – who remain outside the EU but participate in the EU internal market. This, however, comes at a price as they are required to adopt all EU legislation without having a say in shaping it.

British Eurosceptics largely seem to prefer the Swiss ‘à la carte’ model which is based on a series of bilateral agreements with the EU. This means that Switzerland has access to only selected parts of the single market and it is only in those areas that it must adopt the pertinent EU acquis. However, the EU is growing increasingly frustrated with this model. According to the Council report, it ‘is creating legal uncertainty and has become unwieldy to manage and has clearly reached its limits’. Against this backdrop, the EU might be unwilling to allow another country to follow Switzerland’s suit.

However, while Switzerland is able to negotiate free trade accords with other countries independently of the EU, it still has to subscribe to the EU freedom of movement. This has left Switzerland facing what many see as similar problems to the UK; due to high levels of immigration and limited space, many areas are lacking critical infrastructure, such as hospitals, schools and housing. The Swiss actually voted in favour of introducing quotas for all migrants in Switzerland in a referendum in February last year. However, such quotas would violate the terms of the Swiss free movement of people treaty with the EU. It is questionable whether Switzerland will be able to execute the will of its people and whether Britain would have more bargaining power if it found itself in a similar position.

The demographic war

Battle lines will also be drawn between the ‘in’ and ‘out’ campaigns when it comes to demographics. The latest ORB survey indicates that only 31% of 18-24 year-olds favour ‘Brexit’, yet the figure increases twofold in the 65+ age group, soaring to 62%. Therefore, if the ‘in’ campaign manages to coax the youth to the ballots, the result of the referendum should favour the ‘inners’. The importance of this to the ‘in’ campaign can be seen by how hard the Lords are fighting to extend the franchise to 16 year olds for the referendum.

Euro crises

External developments may also sway swing voters one way or the other in the ‘Brexit’ referendum. Currently, the EU is facing pressures on many fronts: the poor handling of the Greek crisis, the sluggish growth rate of its economy, its impotence in the face of the refugee crisis and its inability to contain the immediate terrorist threat, to name but a few. Should the EU find effective solutions to these multi-faceted challenges, the European integration project will regain its credibility and once again appear attractive in the eyes of Britons.

On the other hand, if it fails to deal with these problems, or if they are further exacerbated (for instance, by Greece leaving the Eurozone or by more terrorist attacks in European cities), the EU’s appeal will quickly diminish to the point that ‘Brexit’ becomes inevitable.


In light of the EU’s lacklustre performance in many areas crucial to the well-being of its peoples, ‘Brexit’ has ceased to be a mere political fantasy. While there are many factors to consider when predicting whether Britain will stay in or opt out of the EU, it seems most likely that the ‘status quo bias’ will ultimately decide Britain’s future. This does not mean that all is lost for the ‘Out’ Campaign – if they can consistently overshadow the ‘in’ campaign, or if the EU’s credibility is further undermined by the timing of the referendum, the public may be less opposed to change.