It’s out. The Nationalist party has “launched” a new billboard – complete with press release and comments by the party President. The PN is really trying its darned best to water down the importance of a press release and a press conference. First we had PBO calling not one but two press conferences and now Marthese Portelli, Tonio Fenech and Chris Said were wheeled out in order to explain… a billboard. You know that your billboard campaign has started on the wrong foot when you need to explain or, worse still, justify the content.
While the 2008 campaign was wrought with messages of “taste” and “guilt by association”, the PN in 2012 is resolute in reminding us how much of Labour’s current lineup has its roots way back when the Commodore 64 was launched (note the nerdy reference here). One thing has not changed – the absence of original thought in the creative department. In 2008 we had the plagiarised Sarkozy slogan “ensemble tout est possible” and for 2012 the PN has kicked off with a plagiarised poster from the UK Conservative party campaign back in 1979.
Do note how Marthese Portelli takes care not to mention the Conservative party in her “explanation”. The emphasis in some quarters is on “Saatchi & Saatchi” – you know, the Versace of political campaigns. Like that should make the whole plagiarising business disappear instantly. I wonder whether Saatchi & Saatchi could claim any royalties for this “cut and paste” job – which might go some way into explaining PBO’s estimates for billboard costs.
The original poster did say “Labour isn’t working” (changed to “Labour won’t work” for obvious reasoning) but it also had a little addendum: “Britain’s better off with the conservatives”. Now that’s vanished of course – and I am quite sure the PR department is smart enough not to deviate the attention of the voter with the assertion “Malta’s better off with the nationalists”. Because that is essentially the part of the formula the PN cannot afford to gamble on. The campaign HAS to focus on Labour’s perceived inadequacy to govern (and Labour goes quite a long way in reinforcing that perception) but it also HAS to shift the focus away from the current state of the nationalist party.
So. Are we better off with the conservatives? What is the PN doing to allay fears that their conservative elements will not dominate a future legislature? Well. Right now we have the rush to change laws on expression, the IVF bill with all its controversies and a number of other minor laws crying for attention (still slapping nudists with criminal fines are we?).
In the end this is not a game changer but it is a clear indication that the nationalist party will definitely find it tough going if it were to act as though all were fine and dandy. And it will take much more than an article by a human rights lawyer to convince the intelligent voter that the PN vote is the vote for change.