As the election campaigning draws to a close, political advertising is everywhere – not least all over social media, with the parties utilising different platforms with various degrees of success. See our research here.
Saatchi & Saatchi has the distinction of producing what is arguably the most iconic political advert in British history. ‘Labour isn’t working’ perfectly captured the British public’s imagination and capitalised on the economic malaise that had paralysed Britain in the late 1970s under the Callaghan Labour government. During this era of industrial strife, Britain saw a period of high unemployment which Saatchi & Saatchi utilised to produce a concise and memorable advert that summed up Labour’s perceived failings in three words. As cynical as it is to focus on an opponent’s failings rather than one’s own successes, there can be little doubt about the campaign’s effectiveness.
While Maurice and Charles Saatchi may be celebrated as the geniuses behind ‘Labour isn’t working’, young copywriter Andrew Rutherford was in fact the creative mind behind the poster. Legend has it that Charles Saatchi rejected the ad when preparing his pitch to Tory campaign bigwigs, but Rutherford cunningly snuck it in among other would-be pitch materials, where it went on to catch Margaret Thatcher’s eye. The campaign propelled then newcomers Saatchi & Saatchi into the stratosphere, with Rutherford going on to eventually found Wight Collins Rutherford Scott.
Given the mixed popularity of the Thatcher government, some would sooner regard Rutherford as a villain rather than an unsung hero. However, what can’t be denied is that Rutherford’s creative and strategic vision was of heroic proportions.