Cameron’s communication strategy: appeal to the youth

Selon la presse anglaise, David Cameron passe beaucoup de temps sur son iPad. Il a d’ailleurs fait développer une application spéciale qui lui permet d’avoir en temps réel tous les chiffres, statistiques et informations sur l’économie anglaise. Mais cela ne fait-il pas partie d’une stratégie de communication pour paraître plus moderne, plus jeune ? En effet, le premier ministre anglais semble être un adepte des nouveaux outils technologiques, à l’image de son homologue américain, ce qui lui permet probablement de séduire l’électorat jeune.

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David Cameron had a special app made for his iPad: “No 10 Dashboard”, which allows him to check on Britain’s latest economic figures like GDP, bank lending, jobs and property data, polling data and Twitter feed. In the future this app could be used by Cameron’s ministers and collaborators. However according to the Guardian, the customization of David Cameron’s iPad cost as much as £20,000 and the Taxpayers’ Alliance said Cameron’s iPad was “both a distraction and a waste of money”. Indeed the British press published the words of one of Cameron’s senior advisers: the Prime Minister is accused of spending “a crazy, scary amount of time playing Fruit Ninja on his iPad’. Thus, what seems to be a good idea for every chief of State in the world, may actually be a response to those accusations of “chillaxing”.

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Besides this iPad app doesn’t seem to be a marginal event but part of a whole communication strategy. David Cameron decided to subscribe to Twitter in October (@David_Cameron). He already had a Twitter account as the occupant of 10 Downing Street and he said several times that he hated Twitter. However the goal of this new account was to be more personal and biased therefore to create a new communication. This strategy is akin to Obama’s who is followed by more than 20 million people and takes care to protect his cool image by signing the tweets he writes personally with his initials, “BO”. A Twitter account is a way to show oneself as closer to people, more dynamic and comfortable with new technologies. David Cameron is just following the trend: the Burston-Masteller study found that almost two-thirds of world leaders are on Twitter, which is why the phrase “twiplomacy” was coined.

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More recently David Cameron also made an appearance in the last video clip of a famous band named The One Direction. The Brit Award winning band composed of 5 boys decided to donate money for the British charity Red Nose Day. The Prime Minister can be seen twice in this clip: first when the 5 boys are dancing in front of 10 Downing Street and a few seconds later he stands with a fixed smile while the singers are hugging him. The question is: why did a serious political figure like the Prime minister decide to make this 2-second appearance in a teenage video clip? Of course it is because the clip is for a famous charity but the point may be that the majority of teenagers who listen to this band will be 18 years old in 2 years. David Cameron is trying to chase the vote of young people

Indeed these 3 examples show that David Cameron seeks to rejuvenate his image.

David Cameron continues his policy launched in 2007, when he became the leader of the Tories, with the opening of the website “Webcameron”. In his website he put videos online of him and his family in a personal setting which may remind a little of reality shows. The conservatives created a communication strategy focused on the private life of Cameron with the aim of transforming the “nasty party” into a kindly and compassionate party. For these reasons David Cameron can be compared to former Labour Prime Minister Tony Blair who understood as well the importance of the media and their power on the young generation. As a result in 2008 David Cameron, who is 16 years younger than Gordon Brown, seems to be able to relate to young people and is much more familiar with new technologies and their utility than the former Prime Minister and his advisor.

David Cameron can also be compared to another political figure: Barack Obama. In the UK there are almost twice as many adults of pensionable age (21%) than young people aged between 18 and 24 (11%). There is a similar ratio in the USA. That can explain why politicians didn’t really try to woo young voters in the past and have invested in more cost-effective electoral communication. Today in the UK as in the USA before, there was a downward spiral of non participation among young voters that was worsening and continuing through age groups. It has serious implications for the future of democracy and the legitimacy of governments. The Conservative party is trying to inverse the trend by copying Obama’s electoral communication strategy with webcameron, Twitter, the iPad app …

The danger of this strategy would be to lose credibility: in these times of crisis, people are expecting their leader to be serious, reassuring, able to focus on what it is important and find solutions to stop the crisis. Some people have already accused the Prime Minister of chillaxing and most people who comment on David Cameron’s tweets do it to ridicule the Prime Minister or to remind him of his promises or the hurdles he hasn’t overcome yet. David Cameron is also insulted and described as a “wander”. So the big challenge for the next elections will be to attract young voters … without appearing childish.

Julie FEOLA & Aurélien BOYER

 

 

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