So, the morning after, and the result nobody expected. Labour transformed into the party of south-west London rowers, while the Conservatives marched confidently into the mining towns of Wales and the north like they weren’t the ones who set fire to it in the first place.
Tempting as it is, though, this isn’t going to be a polemic: partly because I don’t really have the energy to be angry right now; partly because I have a funny feeling that the anger that has permeated politics for the past four years hasn’t really helped anybody. I might be of the view that Mark Francois’ a bellend, but he’s a bellend that 40,000 people voted for yesterday – and that’s something that probably merits a bit of a closer look.
There’s probably an interesting point to be made about truth. I have to provide two pieces of evidence to Clearcast to make an ad saying that a table that costs £200 really costs £200, while politicians can go on telly and say pretty much whatever they like without the need for any evidence at all, whether it’s true or not. Forty thousand nurses? Sure, bruv. Just don’t try to sell anyone a table, yeah? That could be interesting. But it feels a bit small, really.
Maybe it’s not the time for serious stuff. Maybe this should just be a 500-word puff piece about how relieved I am that agencies' bottom drawers are now emptied of all their hilarious "let’s write something snarky on the side of a bus and drive it through Westminster" ideas. But, again, well, you know. I spent a large part of yesterday talking to the other parents at Stan’s nursery about food-bank donations, so it’s probably not the time for puff pieces either. (Plus, we’ve still got a bus idea we’re trying to get away.)
I’ll be totally honest, I’m not exactly overflowing with inspiration right now. Two years ago, when Jeremy Corbyn swept to the career high of losing a general election narrowly (ALL HAIL OUR MIGHTY NOT-LEADER), I wrote in Campaign that among the chaos I could sense something that felt a little bit like hope. I feel very little hope this morning. We’ve somehow reached the point where we all agree that the past few years have been a nightmare and have concluded that the best way to bring that to an end is to keep the same people in charge. Sure. OK.
The funniest thing about the whole affair is that us ad folk really should have predicted this. Strip it all away and this was an election won on some pretty simple advertising fundamentals. A simple message beat a complicated message. Conviction beat wavering. Clarity beat obfuscation. And a focused call to action beat a… well, whatever the hell it was that Corbyn was peddling.
Ultimately, if people don’t know what you’re selling, it’s pretty hard to persuade them to buy it. And, as a side note, if you tell anyone who disagrees with you to fuck off and vote for the Tories… Well, that’s a pretty compelling message too.
The election result will have left a lot of people scared, a lot of people sad and a lot of people hurt. If you’re one of those people, I don’t have an answer for you… other than that it might be time to listen for a bit. Because I don’t think we’ve really heard people that much of late. And for what it’s worth, food banks might not be a bad place to start.
Dan Cullen-Shute is chief executive and co-founder of Creature