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 – – 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.

Hello, Rohan Silva

I, like Nick Booth and presumably countless others, got an email from someone called Rohan Silva today, who has an @parliament email address. Rohan writes:

I thought you might be interested in how Cabinet Office minister Tom Watson‘s speech yesterday on new technologies and the internet “mashed up” Conservative Party policies, speeches and ideas from the past 18 months. (Comically, the link to Tom’s speech isn’t actually working at the moment: – and it’s not been published on the Cabinet Office website…)

It’s well worth reading Tom’s entire speech alongside our previous key speeches on this subject, and seeing for yourself just how much of it has been purloined from Conservative Party announcements. But for those of you who don’t have time to do that, here’s a selection of some of the most obvious thefts in Tom’s speech, along with some suggestions about other Conservative Party internet related policies that he may want to borrow for his next one…

What follows is a job lot of loosely related content from Watson’s speech, along with the Tory equivalent from where it was ‘stolen’. There are obviously problems with this, as Nick points out in his post:

Rohan: I know and can find a whole range of already public sources for these ideas: books, websites, blogs, reports commissioned by goverment and others. These ideas are out there and both parties are getting to grips with them and talking about them. I would have to be something of a moron to believe that all the government is doing is nicking ideas from you when it is much more credible to believe that you are all reading about and experience the same radical shift in how we communicate and collaborate.

It’s kind of interesting that the Tories are targeting a group of interested folk in this way. But several things annoyed me:

  1. The list was sent to everyone in the bcc field, so I have no idea who else got this. Great way to start a conversation.
  2. Why not post this on a blog somewhere, point us to it and start a discussion around it?
  3. As Nick points out, why not engage with Tom and see to it that these ideas get implemented?

This ain’t the way to go about it, boys.