Industry steps up campaign to demystify political ads

Media Smart Ad in situ at Liverpool on Open Media.The advertising industry is renewing its awareness campaign ‘What’s the deal with political advertising?’ to help voters understand the ads by political parties they may see in the run up to the General Election.

The campaign, backed by Media Smart and the Advertising Association, highlights a 10-point guide, freely available to download, which aims to improve political literacy, particularly among young people preparing to vote for the first time.

A 30” video creative, designed by Pearl & Dean Productions, part of Create at Pearl & Dean, will appear in Pearl & Dean cinemas and on BVOD on Channel 4, following clearance, subtitling, and delivery through Clearcast.

Thought-provoking static executions of the campaign will feature on out of home activity, with Open Media’s sites and from Next Gen Media in university accommodation and sixth form colleges.

The industry has been urged to support with media inventory, where possible, to help maximise the awareness campaign and increase circulation of the guide.

Advertising plays a crucial role in any General Election and this year will be no exception, with spending limits recently increasing 80% to around £35m for each party.

Data released by UK advertising thinktank Credos shows 44% of people are concerned about political advertising, with people significantly less likely to trust political advertising (29%) than all/commercial advertising (39%).

The research also highlighted that almost three quarters of people (73%) believe that political advertising should be subject to the same rules and regulations as other forms of advertising.

Media Smart, the advertising and media industry’s education programme, worked with youth focused creative agency Livity to produce the guide which answers questions on electoral advertising rules; digital and AI-generated content; misinformation and fact-checking; and how people can improve their political literacy. It also highlights how regulation around commercial advertising, subject to rules enforced by the Advertising Standards Authority, differs to advertising by political parties.

Media Smart executive director Rachel Barber-Mack said: “Encouraging young voters to vote, and vote with confidence, is a key part of our mission in the run up to this General Election. Voters should be equipped to understand the messages they will see via advertising and this awareness campaign will help empower political literacy at this vital time.”

Advertising Association chief executive Stephen Woodford added: “The countdown to the ballot box is now on and while advertising by political parties is not subject to regulation by the ASA, I believe the advertising industry has a responsibility to educate voters about how the tools of our industry will be used during this time.

“This is only possible thanks to the generosity of industry partners providing media inventory to help share these resources and I encourage any media owners wishing to donate ad space to get in touch.”

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