Ranking the Party Election Broadcasts

As most of our regular readers know, I typically get a group of people together to review the party election broadcasts from the various parties in Northern Ireland. However, with the twists and turns in the current Irish general election, I thought it would be interesting do something similar for the party election broadcasts in the South.

In that spirit, I took myself down to Dublin to review each of the main parties election broadcasts Hugh O’Connell, Political Editor of The Journal.ie, Gavan Reilly, Political Correspondent of Today FM and Suzanne Collins, Director of Campaigns and Operations of Women For Election.

Fianna Fail (24.5/30)

Gavan thought that this was the PEB that Fine Gael would maybe have hoped for but didn’t really achieve. He liked the musical cues in the Fianna Fail broadcast and the use of a positive message that elections are about more than just the economy, but the voters’ quality of life.  The use of other candidates and the party leader he thought worked well. Essentially this was a much more fine tuned version of what Fine Gael were trying to do.  (8/10)

Suzanne noted the gender parity in this broadcast with women’s voices/appearances taking up 50% of the total time which she thought was very important given the fact the party has no female TDs at the moment. Suzanne liked the personal stories; particularly the two elderly women talking about pension increases which she thought looked very natural. The fact that the party didn’t hide the leader, instead using him as bridge between the voters and the candidates worked really well. (8.5/10)

Hugh agreed with Suzanne that the two ladies were excellent and seemed genuine. The musical cues worked well and that the broadcast had a positive tone throughout. He thought the PEB preached to an electorate fed up with slow growth and low pension increases. Like Gavan, he thought that this was the type of PEB that Fine Gael were aiming for, but didn’t really pull off.


Anti-Austerity Alliance/People Before Profit (23/30)

Suzanne thought this PEB was really effective. They had a good use of female voices (47% of the total time) and women appearing on-screen (44%). There was a good use of their candidates in different parts of the country and wasn’t over produced. (8/10)

Likewise, Hugh liked this PEB, the candidate ripping up their water bill was really good, but he felt could’ve been delivered better. Indeed, he thought that the broadcast lacked some of the radicalism that this group has become known for and it could have made this a bit more authentic if it had more of that throughout. However, he felt that this was more effective in pitching to that left-wing electorate than the Sinn Fein PEB. (6.5/10)

Gavan thought the PEB was great at nailing down problems and speaking to the electorate who feel that there is no recovery going on at the moment. However, it was very light on solutions, but overall does a great job linking the movement to the water charge protests. (8.5/10)

Sinn Fein (20/30)

Gavan thought that fact that the Sinn Fein PEB features one voice that represents one region of the country didn’t do a lot to advance the part’s aims in this election. However, he felt this broadcast did more to represent metropolitan Ireland than the others. But there is a major failing in that it features none of the Sinn Fein candidates or even the front bench of the party.  (7/10)

Hugh agreed with Gavan that the fact that a Northern accent is the only one featured is a problem in this PEB. Having said that he felt that it was a very energetic with good shots of rural Ireland, but another failing is that it was good at diagnosing problems, but says little about what Sinn Fein would do in government to fix those problems. (6/10)

Suzanne agreed about the fact that no candidates were profiled was a problem but that the entire PEB was trying to be too clever by half. She thought that the fact it is only 2 minutes 13 seconds in before you actually know that it was broadcast for Sinn Fein and that the lack of their politicians in it was a real problem. However, she did like the use of women on the screen and the prominence in the broadcast overall.  (7/10)

Labour (19/30)

Gavan began by saying that the broadcast was ‘very Joan’ which on a personal level is an interesting move as many voters will not be aware of Joan Burton’s background or her journey in becoming Labour leader. However, politically he doesn’t think that this works at all as the party are over estimating her popularity with the electorate and the party’s performance during this campaign bears that out. (6/10)

Hugh followed a similar line that the PEB was ‘very Joan’ which politically is not a good move from the party as she has become a very polarising figure for many in the electorate. He also thought that the party has on social media produced some interesting ads show what Labour has done in government and that this PEB placing so much emphasis on Burton’s back story will essentially be irrelevant to many voters.  (5/10)

Suzanne actually really liked the Labour PEB and the personal narrative that Burton gave in the broadcast, which she thinks people will connect with outside of the political bubble. She felt it was produced very well and liked the emphasis on society, plus she felt it owned some of the wider achievements of the government over gender quotas.  (8/10)

Green Party (19/30)

Hugh thought there were lots of greenery and outdoor shots, but the shots of Eamon Ryan walking on the beach were hilarious. On that note, he did pick up that the Green Party does use their leader a lot more than either Fine Gael or Sinn Fein, which is interesting given that he was part of the last government. Hugh did think that the emphasis on climate change might be a bit counterproductive as it just is not an issue in this election campaign. (6/10)

Gavan found thought that the use of footage of the recent floods were very effective in taking the issue of climate change out of the abstract. He thought that the use of Eamon Ryan made sense given his popularity as a politician, but the end shot of Greens walking towards the camera looked odd. (7/10)

Suzanne thought the PEB did a very good job, but should have made the issue of climate change more relevant quicker. She felt that they could have done more to identify candidates in the broadcast and she noted that women only feature in the PEB just 28% of the time. There was also an over emphasis on their Dublin candidates when they are running people all over the country. (6/10)

Fine Gael (17/30)

Hugh thought that this broadcast kept within Fine Gael’s message of keeping the recovery going and really liked the use of ‘ordinary people’ but he found it overall a bit boring and also noted the lack of women in the broadcast overall. (6/10

Suzanne agreed with Hugh, noting that the PEB started and ended with men’s voices. Overall women’s voices made up just 32 seconds of a three-minute PEB (17%) and 41 seconds on-screen (22%). Suzanne thought the absence of politicians was really interesting, but the entire thing just jarred a bit. (5/10)

Gavan thought from a presentation point of view that the fact there was no backing music to the personal testimonies hurt the PEB as it doesn’t really grab your attention and feels a little bit under produced. Another interesting thing that he found really interesting was that Enda Kenny does not actually make appearance in the broadcast which is a contradiction of the rest of the campaign which features the Taoiseach prominently. (6/10)

David McCann holds a PhD in North-South relations from University of Ulster. You can follow him on twitter @dmcbfs