Saturday, 27 March 2010

Punters are NOT stupid

It is a cliché to say that ad men despise those to whom they try to sell.

It is also untrue.*

Punters are decent, hard working, honourable people - people just like you and me - and ultimately they pay my wages. I like punters, because most of the time I am one of them.

However, we ad men do sometimes get frustrated with punters. How dare they be so uninterested in my product? Don't they understand how wonderful it is? Why won't they buy it?

It must be the same at CCHQ just now. "Why on earth won't the polls respond, when this Government is so patently crap, and even a dog in pyjamas could do a better job on the economy?"

Well, sorry, chaps, but you can't blame the punters. You can't even blame 'poor communication', 'not getting our message over', or even the BBC**. It's your underlying message that's at fault. Because currently, you're not saying anything.

Without a clear point of difference, punters always stick with what they know. Your early poll leads were based on the sheer awfulness of Labour, but as soon as you looked like a Government in waiting, it was inevitable that the scrutiny would fall on you. And what have you been offering?

More of the same. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you:  NHS spending ring-fenced. Green taxes, and greenhouse gas reduction. No referendum on the Lisbon Treaty. Cuts that 'won't be too swingeing'.

And you're parcelling this up as "TIME FOR CHANGE"?

Look, punters have lives to get on with. So unlike me, they didn't watch the Milton Keynes speech and get excited about the radical decentralisation of power. Unlike me, they can easily be put off Gove's excellent education proposals or locally elected sheriffs by a little negative NUT/ACPO campaigning and a few snide digs on the News Quiz. Unlike me, they think that all politicians are the same scurrilous lying bastards.

For God's sake, somewhere in there is a coherent and powerful philosophy - I know, I've dug for it and found it. Hannan and Carswell have written a book on it.

But if you're too scared ever to express it, or argue it forcefully against the eternal leftist, statist opposition that is the BBC, how on earth do you expect the poor bloody punter to either understand or believe in you?


UPDATE: Toby Young almost says punters are stoopid: Gordon Brown's general election pledges look impressive

UPDATE 2: Janet Daley says the same. Come on Dave, we're rooting for you. Guess that if Heffer and North stopped being such utter bastards from the other side, it might help boost your confidence?

* clients, though... ah, now there's another story
** actually, you can blame the BBC. Always. I have no problem with that

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