Those of you who are following the presidential election campaign in the US may have noticed Romney’s ‘Obama isn’t working’ campaign, launched last year. The campaign’s key poster is, as Romney calls is, a ‘tribute’ to one of the most famous British election posters. Saatchi and Saatchi’s Labour Isn’t Working poster, called the poster of the century in 1999, is still remembered by Conservatives and non-Conservatives alike. It proves one of the most popular images at each year’s Conservative Party Conference, and it appears regularly in the press as the emblem of an era.
Romney’s campaign manager Stuart Stevens wrote a blog post explaining their choice to emulate the Thatcher campaign, which called a ‘historic political poster depicting the negative economic conditions and the government’s failed attempts to correct that path’.
The original poster(s) addressed the rising rate of unemployment in Britain. The dole queue for the photo shoot was made up of Party members from Brent North and Hendon in north London. It was originally designed for an expected autumn 1978 general election; the election didn’t take place until spring 1979, and the poster was reused in various formats then.
After a 13-year hiatus, Maurice and Charles Saatchi have returned to the Conservative Party campaign team (more information available from the BBC website). M&C Saatchi do not replace Euro RSCG, the Tories’ current agency, but will work alongside them in the run-up to the general election.
Saatchi & Saatchi, the brothers’ original company, was responsible for some of the most iconic campaign posters of the 20th century, from the 1979 ‘Labour isn’t working’, often cited as one of the factors that kept Margaret Thatcher in Number 10, to 1992’s ‘Labour Tax Bombshell’. Maurice and Charles Saatchi split from Saatchi & Saatchi, who now work for the Labour campaign, to form M&C Saatchi in 1995.
We’ve chosen a few representative Saatchi & Saatchi items from The Conservative Party Archive Poster Collection – please visit the Archive’s site to view more. If you’re interested in using them yourself, they’re available from Getty Images.
Labour Isn’t Working (1978-79)
John Major’s ‘Tax Bombshell’ party political broadcast (1992)
Labour’s Tax Bombshell (1992)
All images and videos ©Conservative Party Archive Trust