Wednesday, 14 January 2009

The Party is not for Listening - Tories & Bottlefeeding

On Monday, the Conservative Party launched a campaign video. It's on their own party website, and their official YouTube one.
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It features a four week old baby, reclined back, being force fed from a massive baby bottle.
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From the political party hoping to be in charge of the Health Service. From the political party hoping to take over the UK's global obligations on the world stage.
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From the political party hoping for your vote.
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Two truly interesting things about this. Mothers picked up on these images, and acted, within hours of the the campaign launch.
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The Conservative Party, four days later, has still to even respond to their efforts. It's pretty clear to me - No One Is Listening.
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Personally, in an attempt to get an understanding of how this happened, what their intent was, and where this video was going to be shown, I contacted the Conservative Party direct. On phoning them, and explaining my business, I was put through to an answer-phone to leave a message. This was lunchtime, Monday. I phoned switchboard back, explained I had serious concerns, and wanted to speak to someone. Not possible. "The lady who answers information enquiries.." would pick up the message. "She was at lunch." Could I speak to the press office? "No." Can I speak to anyone at all? "No."
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I left a message. I explained clearly it was a really important matter, and I required information.
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No one has replied.
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The next day, I emailed David Cameron. Explained there was no response, no way of getting through, could someone help?
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No one has replied.
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Some mothers, who have contacted their own Conservative MPs, were told their complaints were passed on. I'm not aware of any actual responses to the complaints.
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The bottle feeding images are still in the video. Despite it being perfectly clear that many people have informed the Conservative Party that this is a massive own goal in their publicity machine. That baby bottle deaths are a serious international issue. That their own credibility is on the line, in terms of them both understanding the global issues, the domestic health issues, and their own ability to listen to the electorate. The images are still there - they have still yet to respond.
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On the YouTube site, you can find people complaining - including me. No official response at all. In fact, one other commentator, has suggested the outraged complaints about the bottle feeding image, is a Labour 'plot' to discredit the Tories.
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As if.
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The Tories are doing all the damage themselves, I assure you.
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What to do about it? Well, direct complaints to the Conservative Party can be sent here.
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Otherwise... it depends where this video appears. Political parties can not put campaign videos on television, so you shouldn't see it there. Sometimes, however, such videos are shown in the cinema, and in print. If you see these images, in the cinema, or in a magazine, then you can complain to the Advertising Standards Authority. You need to be very specific about where, and when, you saw it.
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OFCOM wouldn't normally be involved in such complaints. However, after I chatted with them on Monday, they said that as it is a political party, they'd like to be informed if people do complain, so complain to them as well. However, this is only if the video appears outside cyber space. Like the ASA, a complaint can only be made if the images appear in mainstream media: in the cinema, on a broadcast channel, in print. So, again, you need to state where and when you saw it. No one can act for YouTube and the Conservative Party internal website.
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If they act at all, that is.
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For, of course, we're slam bang in the middle of more gray areas in the UK's protection legislation on Code, and how well we do, or don't, enforce it. The Tories aren't selling you bottles or teats. They're just using the images, blindly, and with no understanding or respect for the issues. They are acting irresponsibly, unethically... they're being quite thick, really. Stupid. Insensitive. Ignorant. But are they breaching broadcast guidelines...? Only way to really find out, is to complain, and see what happens.
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Might as well, should it turn up in paid slots somewhere. It's not as if they are listening to complaints direct to them!
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You can also report the video to the Baby Law Feeding Group, and see if adding your voice to others, helps somehow, somewhere. Sending them money for their work, would also help in the long run. Or sending money to Baby Milk Action, for the same.
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People do bottle feed. Images of such, in appropriate forums, such as dramas, documentaries, educational material.. they are acceptable. Especially when done responsibly, and with an eye to Code, whether it technically covers the material, or not.
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Nothing about the bottle feeding in this promotion for a political party hoping to gain Government, is remotely responsible, or appropriate. And the party's refusal to engage with the complaints, or the issues, speaks volumes: gives out a very clear message.
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And it's not a good message, in terms of gaining people's trust, and garnering their vote. Or saving babies' lives.
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2 comments:

Ruth Moss said...

Have emailed via their web site, and have also made a comment on the youtube vid. Probably would never have voted Tory anyway... but deffo not now!!

Rob A said...

I've emailed the Tories too via their website and done lots of thumbs-up clicking on YouTube!