Billboards - Big waste of money or effective campaigning technique ?

UKIP have the face and name of their candidate in Norwich North adorning a handful of billboard sites in the constituency. Apparently the Greens too are to follow UKIP in doing this. My question is whether it is effective.

At the last General Election in North Norfolk Iain Dale managed to get his face and name on the only large billboard in North Norfolk. Just as you drove in to Cromer from Norwich, there it was to greet you. I must admit it worried local Lib Dems in Cromer that it would "have an effect". However, our canvassing showed it had no real effect, with if anything a slightly negative response. The typical Norfolk view I got from people was "He thinks a little too much of himself".

So does a billboard persuade anyone ?

Certainly it might make people have an awareness that a candidate is standing of that party has not got a high enough profile in the constituency or is unable to deliver the number of leaflets that the main parties can put out. But in a by-election it can serve to show the lack of effective ground troops that party has. If the only thing that is seen from the Greens, for example, is one leaflet and one poster, it can serve to underline that that party is struggling. In constituency wide elections in normal electoral cycles, when each party may only get out two or three leaflets this may not matter. But in by-elections when delivering 10 leaflets in 5 weeks is the norm, will it not serve to undermining the intensity of that party's campaign ?

So whilst I cannot think billboards will not do any harm, speaking from my own experience I am still unsure how effective they are.

Does anyone else have experiences of billboards they can offer by way of comments ?


Anonymous said...

I would say yes . Why would UKIP buy thousands at the euro elections ?

Norfolk Blogger said...

For exactly the reaons I stated. Please read what I wrote.

It helps parties who have few ground troops to ahve a presence. particularly in elections when less leaflets will be going out (like the Euros - I got only one leaflet from each party).

But in parliamentary by-elections and in hard fought individual constituencies which are targeted, it seems they will serve to underline that they have a candidate but no capacity to deliver a full campaign.

I written all this already IN THE ARTICLE !

UKIP Observer said...

I think you need to put this into context.

UKIP are a much smaller party than the Tories. Billboards, for UKIP, are a matter of letting people know that they are even in the election and that their intentions are serious. Establishing a presence is essential for less well-known parties, especially when you don't have elected Councillors in the area. The Party spent thousands upon thousands on the 2004 and 2009 Euro Election Campaigns on billboards to alert the public that they were there, and there to compete. It worked both times.

Slightly different for the Tories. Everyone knows they are in the election, so perhaps a Tory billbaord sends out a slightly different, self-indulgent message.

By the way, there are not a handful of UKIP billboards in Norwith North, there are actually well over a dozen. From what I have heard in the constituency, they are having the desired effect - showing that UKIP have serious intentions for this by-election.

Norfolk Blogger said...

I think you are arguing with me and actually agreeing with the points I made.

UKIP Observer said...

Hmm perhaps so. I would say simply that from UKIP's point of view, as a so-called "fringe" Party, billboards are a very effective campaign tool. I can't imagine the public looking at a UKIP billboard and thinking that the Party was in any way struggling. Perhaps I am wrong?

Norfolk Blogger said...

You see, I can see the strategy for using billboards at the Euros, but I don't think it will be effective in a by-election. The Lib Dems and Tories have delivered three leaflets already. That is the real battleground.

Jim Jay said...

The Chritian Party people used a lot of billboards in London at the euros and it does give the impression of a party with more money than ground troops.

However, given that they (and UKIP) have no troops it's probably better than nothing.

For me I guess it all depends on how much it costs. If it's reasonably cheap it may well be good enough to build the profile in the local area - if it costs the same as, say, thousands and thousands of leaflets I'd only go for it if I couldn't get those leaflets delivered.

Dan said...

Billboards no

Garden boards yes - fraction of the cost and make a much bigger impression if you can get a few together on main roads

Norfolk Blogger said...

Oh don't I know that. We had 1600 boards up in North Norfolk in 2005.

Alix said...

By garden boards I take it you mean in supporters' front gardens?

There is another hybrid option I've recently noticed in Cheshire (naturally) where the Tories have, basically, put road signs up everywhere advertising themselves (this is removed from by-election times, obviously). They're small-ish, maybe a metre square, with just the logo and name, and at eye level along the road. Similar size and placing to the sort of signs that say "New Luxury Development" or "Sainsbury's 150 yds", so I'm sure a lot of people look at them in case they say anything important.

The impression given is that the Tories own the place as a personal fiefdom, which, of course, they do. I wonder if it would work in a more marginal scenario, or in a by-election situation? And what if something really bad happened right next to one of the signs?

Anonymous said...

Loads of UKIP billboards in Norwich. Not seen any others. To me it seemed over the top.

Iain Dale definitely made a mistake running a too 'slick' campaign. It does not work in places like North Norfolk. It may work better in trendy city areas.

I think if you are a main party a policy slogan is more appropriate for billboards than candidates.

Posters and signs outside homes don't change a vote. They are there to keep up morale and stop people calling the party's head
office asking why they are not there.

Norfolk Blogger said...

In North Norfolk the Lib Dem poster display is as much "shock and awe" as anything else. Not only does it say "we are strong here", but it highlights the Labour weakness in particular.

Iain Dale said...

Would I run that poster again? No.

Anonymous said...

What about that shirt and jacket combo Iain??

crewegwyn said...


Where in Cheshire have you seen the Tory lamp-post signs?

'Cos I haven't seen any ...