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Even Mail readers think Cam poster backfired

4:42 pm - January 24th 2010

by Sunny Hundal    

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The Daily Mail also put in the knife to Cameron today with a story gleefully reporting that many of his airbrushed posters across the country had been defaced, asking, “surely be regretting his poster campaign by now”.

It went on to point out that a poster of Cameron in the county town of Hereford had been defaced to make him look like Elvis.

It added:

The £500,000 advertising campaign has been heavily criticised amid claims Cameron was air-brushed for the nationwide poster.

The poster in Hereford has been happily admired by passers-by. Locals have been laughing and taking pictures of the billboard while posing next to it.

After visiting Hereford for the day, Joanne Williams, 29, from Worcester, said: ‘I can’t believe people did this. I was horrified at first but now it makes me smile every time I see it. I don’t know how on earth he got up there.’

The newspaper polled its own readers to ask: ‘Has David Cameron’s poster campaign been an own goal?’

So far 63% have said yes.

[hat-tip Ellie Gellard]

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About the author
Sunny Hundal is editor of LC. Also: on Twitter, at Pickled Politics and Guardian CIF.
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Reader comments

Don’t be too sure: I have to admit to being a dummy because I answered that poll and clicked “Yes”…however I completely misunderstood: I was voting YES the continued airbrushing taunts and myriad joke posters had backfired because despite poking fun at Cameron they were attracting far more attention which would just remind more people how bad Brown really was, some who otherwise wouldn’t even notice/care about a Conservative poster.

After clicking I realised they were asking had it backfired for the Conservatives!

The Mail asked “‘Has David Cameron’s poster campaign been an own goal?”.

Span Ows replied “Yes” as he thought the phrase “own goal” meant “roaring success”.


3. The Grim Reaper

It has indeed backfired.

However, one piece of food for thought. Who here seriously thinks that we will be seeing a poster from Labour showing the Prime Minister alongside the words “I will protect the NHS” or something similar? Indeed, what chances of Gordon appearing in any election poster?

On a tenuously related note, does Liberal Conspiracy not have any other unflattering pictures of Call Me Dave it can use? One Google search will get you more, you know…

4. the a&e charge nurse

“a poster of Cameron in the county town of Hereford had been defaced to make him look like Elvis”.

Surely they meant Grandpa Munster?

That Elvis poster is freaking awesome, the time and effort is worth some kind of award surely?

Am I the only person who, whilst amused, is annoyed because the actual line is “We can’t go on together” and not “We can’t go on like this”?

Are you really a Sevillista?

“Span Ows replied “Yes” as he thought the phrase “own goal” meant “roaring success”.”

But I didn’t answer the poll in that David Cameron article; it was a line of polls in the RH sidebar whilst reading another article. I had also read on two other – Conservative – blogs how the continued coverage has backfired on the Conservatives. As Iain Dale wrote: “Any poster which is still being talked about two weeks after it first appeared has to have something going for it”…now this wa stwo days before I answered the Daily mail poll so “natuarlly” I assumed they were on about the ranting about airbrushing had backfired…and I also agree taht it has.

That said it doesn’t excuse my misreading of the poll but it certainly doesn’t make me desperate…to be that I’d be considering voting Liberal Democrat…

Sorry for all the typos!

Also should read “I had also read on two other – Conservative – blogs the question IF the continued coverage has backfired on the Conservatives.”

The use of “even” the Daily Mail, as if the Mail has been in any way a friend of Dave is very interesting.

It suggests young Mr Hundal’s awareness of the basic alignment of Fleet Street is hilariously askew.

Troll Coxall, stopping by to make a tit of himself and plug his twitter account.


How much does a poster campaign cost, and what is the normal return in terms of views?

How much more publicity has this campaign got than what was expected? After all, everyone who sees the spoofs has to be aware of the original. And there is the basic rule that you need to be seen to be electable.

And does not the graffiting and making Cameroon look human actually achieve the effect of downplaying the elitist snob that certain elements in the Labour movement want to emphasise as part of class warfare?

I doubt the Conservatives are considering this a disaster. If it is a disaster, then Labour better hope like hell there are no Conservative triumphs round the corner.

Incidentally – isn’t there an editorial policy here of disputing everything the Mail writes. It’s one of the sites best points, so please don’t drop it.


Quelle surprise! To find you here defending the Tories and making out that this is a PR masterstroke, when clearly it isn’t, all you offer is the all publicity is good publicity, which is patently not true, esp. in this case when the method of Tory publicity has not only been parodied but destroyed by that parody.

I think the funniest bit is you making out that Cameron turned into Elvis is actually a good idea and will help reach out to voters.

The lengths some people will go to…


How is the Elvis image a bad thing? And please note the ‘we can’t go on’ is still there – which is part of the Conservative message. The one of Cameron as Satan might be more effective, but it is still a big picture of David Cameron being copied and flashed around, reinforcing the fact he exists and ha

More to the point, I doubt this is a PR masterstroke unless the left-wing blogosphere has been infiltrated by Conservative Party Public Relations. I just think there is nothing in the image or the basic message that will weaken the Conservative image in the eyes of voters (anything offensive or wrong will be spotted by most voters who are not stupid and discounted). My point is that any hopes that this is bad for the Conservatives rather ignores the tendency for non-negative publicity to be good. Especially if you associate David Cameron with a harmless joke.

The missing clause should read ‘and has started to put policy statements out.’

Incidentally, I don’t defend the Tories (I am a natural Whig). Nor do I defend the Conservatives (sorry, just being irritatingly pedantic).


The fact you can’t see that the Elvis defacement was a piss take of a bad idea, how much clearer do you need that to be made to you? Taking the piss out of the words and the image, Jesus, the lengths you types will go to. The posters and the concept were a flop, trying to make this out as a masterstroke for the Tories just smacks of delusion.

You do know the Whigs don’t exist anymore don’t you?

I actually think the Lib Dems under Clegg are quite Whiggish.


Indeed. I also know the Tories don’t exist anymore – hence my habitual usage of the Conservatives (I admit this is also technically incorrect, but Conservative and Unionist is not really understood anymore). I tend to poke fun at people’s lazy shorthand sometimes.

And a piss take is neither good nor bad. It is funny. But it is only if you are afraid of ridicule that laughter becomes a danger; if you roll with it and see the joke then it doesn’t matter. What has happened here is Mr Cameron has become a figure of fun and levity. But none of it has been harmful. People read texts and images on several levels, and when they see the Hereford example they will also be able to see the original face underneath and possibly recollect the original wording. And now when people here a certain Elvis song, they may think of David Cameron.

I think you fail to appreciate how far being in the public eye is vital to political success. People forget you if you are not there, which is why before televisions and radios politicians used to tour and speak, and which is why the Liberal Democrats often have polling slumps.

Especially if you associate David Cameron with a harmless joke.

On the other hand, the spoofs also give the impression the public don’t like him, and that the poster was heavily airbrushed (making him look more fake).


Fair enough, but the impression is that some of the public don’t like him – and they are the ones resorting to grafitti. The public do not view themselves as one mass any more than commentators on Liberal Consipracy do (although Daniel Hoffman-Gill and me are clearly the same…). I would be happy to accept that the posters and their treatment have reinforced people’s prejudices, as we are all inclined to read things to suit these anyway.

I haven’t noticed much concern about the airbrushing incidentally, as I suspect most of the public would think that normal politician behaviour. Just remember the next election is a Douglas Adams lizard issue – it is mostly an issue of making sure the wrong lizard doesn’t get in, not liking the leader or the MP that is being voted for.

I cannot fathom the bizarre lengths you will go to Watchman to twist some kind of argument out of this piece, I mean you really are going through some tortuous and drawn out hoops in order to make out that this is not a problem.

As for my use of Tory, it is a word still in regular usage s a ref to the Conservative party so seems far enough.

21. mexicaneagle


It is no wonder that people don’t understand the Conservatives any more (yes, I am willfully misunderstanding your point that its official name is longer) when they have changed so much. No more Tories and no ore Whigs? Whence the old Disrali One Nation ideal? The truth is that most of what survives in the C&U party is a hotchpotch of New Right Thatcher radicalism, nods toward one nation “traditionalism” (GK Chetserton’s famous “democracy of the dead”), an avowed distrust of “big state” and Blairite aspirational indivisualism.

So at the moment, I too do not “understand” what Conservative means. Especially since Cameron has opposed the lowest proportion (20%) of Labour legislation since 1997.

Which neatly leads to my favourite of these David Cameron posters – The one that says:

We can’t go on like this. We’d do things very very slightly differently.

This is my new favourite…

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  1. Rich LLoyd

    RT @libcon: Even Mail readers think Cam poster backfired

  2. Ian Appleby

    RT @libcon: Even Mail readers think Cam poster backfired < Since when did we start trusting Daily Fail polls?

  3. Amanda

    RT @lucypaw: I am really loving the Cameron poster in Hereford – // LOL!!

  4. Allan Siegel

    Liberal Conspiracy » Even Mail readers think Cam poster backfired

  5. Liberal Conspiracy

    Even Mail readers think Cam poster backfired

  6. The G

    RT @libcon: Even Mail readers think Cam poster backfired

  7. sunny hundal

    RT @libcon: Even Mail readers think Cam poster backfired

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    RT @libcon: Even Mail readers think Cam poster backfired

  9. uberVU - social comments

    Social comments and analytics for this post…

    This post was mentioned on Twitter by libcon: Even Mail readers think Cam poster backfired

  10. Kaye Price

    RT I am really loving the Cameron poster in Hereford – /via @lucypaw >> oh fantastic!

  11. Ricky Sharma

    Well done Daily Mail (never thought I'd ever (ever!) say that!)

  12. Jackie Crossley

    RT @libcon Even Mail readers think Cam poster backfired

  13. Jackie Crossley

    Liberal Conspiracy » Even Mail readers think Cam poster backfired

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