The Conservatives’ ‘Honest Food’ campaign

Yesterday morning, the Conservative Party launched a new campaign for ‘honest food’ – which is all about labelling food with its country of origin. They do have a rather nice video:

I don’t usually drift into party political stuff on this blog, and I’m not really going to start now. For some reason though, this campaign caught my eye and I’m just going to look at the online elements of it and see how they might be improved.

The campaign has it’s own URL – www.honestfoodcampaign.com – which just diverts the user to a sub page of the main Conservative Party website. This is mistake number one for me, for a campaign to engage with a broader range of people, it needs to avoid heavy branding from a political party. By all means make it clear who is behind the campaign, but don’t alienate potential supporters by making it all about the party.

On the campaign site itself, there are four tabs of content, which cover:

  • Honest Food – an intro to the campaign. There is lots of information available, but it is all in downloadable PDFs. Mistake number two.
  • Supporters
  • – some quotes from celebrities. There’s no interaction at all. Mistake number three.

  • Our poll – some details of a survey completed on behalf of the Tories, with a download link to (guess what?) another PDF full of further information (not that I bothered to download it)
  • Get involved – it would appear that the only way to get involved is by emailing, or posting(!) misleading labels to the campaign organisers. These are then made available for people to view…in a downloadable PDF

At the bottom of each of these sections is a link to sign an online (Conservatives-hosted) petition.

That seems to be it.

Here’s what I would do to breath some life into this campaign:

  1. Create a microsite, with very modest branding to host some decent levels of instantly viewable content, and get rid of the PDFs
  2. Get more value from the celeb endorsements, perhaps by making them available for questions from the public through webchats or something similar, or even just by doing some video with them to make it more interesting
  3. Create a space for people to talk about this issue with each other – maybe just a Facebook group, something simple
  4. Make the process of providing photos of poor labelling more fun and social – make it an instantly updated online photo gallery. Accept photos from mobile phones and services like Flickr. Maybe even create an iPhone application to do it.

What I think this makes clear is that whilst people have been critical of Labour’s efforts online, the other parties by no means have it licked themselves. Also, for a campaign to be really successful I think you have to let people feel like they are a part of it, and make it their own. Throwing PDFs at them and getting them to sign a petition does doesn’t real cut it.

3 thoughts on “The Conservatives’ ‘Honest Food’ campaign”

  1. Re: Flickr, totally agree – but even simpler, all they have to do is create a “public group” and users can add their own (existing) photos to it.

    They could have primed that pump by searching for terms like labeling and food and invited the owners of any images they come across to add those photos to the aforementioned group.

    However you are talking about misinformed, unqualified decision makers who have been hook line and sinkered into putting key information into PDFs by the guys in pink socks.

    Its a sign.

  2. Thanks for your constructive and critical review of the most recent web site launched by one of our political parties. Time again political parties attempt to use the bi-directional communications medium of the internet to support uni-directional message communications.

    The continued failure to make meaningful use of the bi-directional medium demonstrates that our politicians and the national political parties are still conditioned by a mindset that elites can do it better and by simply mobilising people in a simplistic politics of numbers (this is a ‘winner takes all’ democracy, after all) to gain a numerical advantage – petitions, votes, protestors &tc – will continue to justify and sustain these elite positions.

  3. The much-vaunted Mathematics taskforce site was pretty much the same…

    “_We_ will talk to _you_. If you’re lucky, after we’ve _listened_ to you.”

    But never “we will talk _with_ you.”

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