Framing politics: The enduring appeal of the poster in British General Election campaigns

2019-04-11T10:23:03Z (GMT) by Chris Burgess Dominic Wring
The poster has been the most durable form of political communication and has played a high-profile role in successive British General Election campaigns. The most well-known example of this was the work of the Saatchi and Saatchi advertising agency on behalf of the Conservatives during the run-up to the 1979 election. The firm's iconic imagery became an electoral issue when the incumbent Prime Minister questioned the ethics of the Saatchi campaign. However, as this chapter will demonstrate, this was far from being the first time that an advertisers' work for a political client had attracted controversy. Rather, the emergence of democracy in early twentieth-century Britain resulted in considerable experimentation with different forms of mass campaigning. Artists, designers and advertisers became increasingly involved in the electoral process through their production of innovative, stylistic imagery as part of concerted attempts to influence a burgeoning electorate. Posters played an integral role in these campaigns; moreover, they look set to continue doing so online as well as offline in a rapidly changing media environment.