It’s General Election time.

And Adland (well, the ones with a political party on their roster) are all locked in a room trying to nail the next “Labour isn’t Working” or “Mr Boom and Mr Bust”. And I reckon it’s the most vital thing anyone will do between now and May 6th.

Now there seems to be some received wisdom that somehow we should be focusing on issues, not ads. There also seems to be some kind of weird point-of-view that advertising shouldn’t sway elections and that we should instead focus on spending days on end reading the manifestos and comparing the various parties’ stance on saving the otter or subsidised bus fares.

But I think we might be getting this all very wrong. I reckon we should definitely just vote for the bloke with the best ads.

Think about it. What are we doing in elections anyway?

We’re looking for someone to represent us. Someone to represent our interests and the interests of society as a whole. Someone who can project a powerful and credible presence both here and abroad. In short, we’re looking for a leader.

So what do the best leaders tend to have?

1. They stand for something. They have a conviction and this is usually based in an unarguable and consistent truth/belief.

2. They have a simple, clear and single-minded message

3. They work out how to simply and cogently take that message out to the world (“Yes, we can “, “You’ve never had it so good”, “Things can only get better”, “Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country.”)

4. They make a powerful and immediate impression on the people they meet

So this is a bit like a good poster, isn’t it? I’d argue that the guy or girl who can coherently get their message across in 8 words and an image in a mass medium like a poster will probably have most (if not all) of the characteristics needed for leadership. I’d argue that, over history, the best leaders are most often the ones with the best campaigns – not always, but often.

The first impression bit is really important. Miliband can have all the policies in the world but he looks a bit odd and he can’t eat a bacon sarnie. Neither Clegg nor Cameron appear to have worked out what to say let alone how to say it. And I’m not sure that anyone else in the current crop has either. Hence why their posters to date in 2015 have been totally rubbish.

Now that doesn’t mean that having a good ad means that you are a good leader any more than having a good ad means that you have a good product. That shouty genius Ben Walker (currently at CP+B) always told me that “a good ad can sell a shit product, but it only works once”. But having a great poster in my opinion does mean that you’ve probably worked out a simple and powerful message and you know how to deliver it. A good start.

So there you go. Chuck away the manifestos. Ignore the policies. Don’t watch the debates – go to the pictures instead, there’s loads of good stuff on at the mo.

Just look at all the posters. Find the best one. Vote for them. Power to the (outdoor) people.

Kevin Chesters – Executive Planning Director at mcgarrybowen.

Follow Kevin on twitter @hairychesters.

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