Fianna Fail's First Election Mistake
Monday, January 18, 2016 at 3:23PM
John Fahy in 2) Marketing Strategy, Advertising, Advertising Effectiveness, Fianna Fail


The appearance of this ‘pre-election’ poster generated quite a buzz in the newspaper and broadcast media over the weekend as commentators agonised over whether this marked a new direction in Irish politics and a rise in the type of negative campaigning commonplace in the UK and USA. While the jury is still out on that question, any marketer looking at this poster will be taken aback at just how bad it is. In short, Fianna Fail has just paid some good money to promote their great rivals.

Look at the poster again. Now remember that when it comes to perceiving advertising messages, Kahneman’s fast and slow cognitive processes come into play. In other words, like most of what we do, processing advertising is done primarily on autopilot or through System 1 thinking as Kahneman calls it. We know that posters are processed on average in 1.5 seconds. What are we likely to have perceived in that time? We will certainly have seen Enda and after that possibly the Fine Gael logo. The vast majority of brains will conclude that the poster was another Fine Gael message of some sort before being distracted by the next available stimulus. The subtlety of what Fianna Fail was trying to do will have been well and truly lost on everyone except those who would feel strongly enough about the picture of the Taoiseach to cognitively engage System 2 and actually read the full poster. And unfortunately for them, that is likely to have been a very small proportion of those exposed to the poster. One would suspect that when the election proper gets underway, the same mistake will not be made again!

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