Political punchlines: how this year’s general election ads measure up

With the public going to the polls on Thursday to vote in the UK’s first general election since 2019, we examine how the campaign messaging has played out

When Rishi Sunak announced a snap UK general election in May in an almost too-perfect, instantly memeable rain-soaked clip, it set the tone for the most online election the country has ever had. This cycle marks a departure from the complex microtargeting of the past towards broad, emotive messages, despite the wide array of channels and the dispersal of election discourse across public and private platforms.

Microtargeting, which gained notoriety through entities such as Cambridge Analytica, dominated previous elections with highly segmented messages aimed at tightly defined groups of voters. However, ethical concerns and questions about the effectiveness of such granular targeting have prompted a shift. This year, the strategy is decidedly simpler and more direct.

Ollie Burch, co-founder and strategy director at Among Equals, explains: “The parties seem to be acknowledging that humans are fundamentally irrational beings and that big, simple and emotive is what really works. This approach has resulted in short, memorable messages that are consistently delivered across various platforms, from advertisements to speeches and interviews.”