POLITICS OF THE EVERYDAY
MSQ Partners discusses the Got 5 campaign, which promotes voter registration in a quirky way
MSQ Partners explains how it created the Got 5 campaign, which promotes voter registration in a quirky yet relatable way
CREATING THE CONCEPT Beri Cheetham
What stops people registering to vote is the notion that it’s time-consuming. But in truth, it only takes a few minutes. So we came up with the tagline ‘Got 5?’. This was based on the idea that you waste time waiting for stuff every day: for a bus, a train, your washing to finish. So why not use that time to register to vote? We created a black-and-white storyboard and a moodboard, and the client got it immediately.
Our idea was to generate a bunch of mundane images, still and moving, to reflect this wasted time. But we didn’t want them to be boring; they needed to have their own visual charm. So we went straight to Nick Meek, who has a wonderful way of capturing the everyday in an atmospheric and beautiful fashion. We had an amazing client, and they backed our choice of Nick right away.
Normally, you’d get a TV director to make the moving images, then commission a photographer to make the stills. But we thought: why don’t we get Nick to make the film himself? It was a first for him, and a bit of a punt on our part, but it turned out really well.
SHOOTING THE SCENES Nick Meek
This was a new and interesting way of working for me as a photographer. It meant that when we started talking about the images, we were talking about the film and stills together, as if they were the same thing. Rather than picking a subject matter and a location purely on its aesthetics and its quality of light, we also considered how it would move and sound.
Beri gave me the black-and-white sketches for the posters and the storyboard, and we hit on the idea of giving each image a dominant colour: one in yellow, one in pink, one in orange. That’s the thing that tied the campaign together.
The Electoral Commission was keen that the choice of colours shouldn’t be perceived as political: so for example, we had to be careful to avoid anything in the images that were obviously Conservative blue, Labour red, or Lib Dem yellow. They didn’t go over the top, though. They allowed us, for instance, to have a yellow rubber duck in the bath, because that’s just a natural thing you’d expect see.
I did a lot of research into sourcing the right locations, props and so on. For instance, I looked at about 90 pairs of feet for the toenail painting sequence. It was important that these scenes spoke to a range of demographics: young people, old people, families, basically everybody.
That’s a really difficult thing to do: there’s a danger that the brand for everybody is the brand for nobody. But we managed to avoid this by creating little idiosyncrasies that lifted everything from the ordinary. The subjects are mundane, but we added little bits of quirky charm to keep things visually interesting; so the bath’s always swimming around, the toes are wiggling, and so on.
DOING THINGS DIFFERENTLY Beri Cheetham
What Nick was brilliant at doing during the shoot was taking our black and white sketches and putting them on screen, then dropping over the colour images to make sure that everything worked properly and together. Normally, you just shoot stuff and take a bit of a leap of faith when you drop it into the layouts back in the office. But here we could do everything on set, in real time, which is rare.
What made this project really different for us is how we defied the conventional wisdom, whereby you get a director doing film and a photographer doing stills. It’s rare to see a print campaign and a broadcast piece that look exactly the same, but that’s what we’ve achieved as a result. It was a ‘clenching of buttcheeks’ moment, but I believe it will be the way forward for many campaigns.
Got 5? is going to continue to be The Electoral Commission’s driving message over the next few elections. What’s nice is that it feels rooted in the everyday. Now, we’re thinking about how it can become much more tactical. We have to try and make this message stick.
05 01All elements of the campaign tie in to the idea of using the time spent waiting for mundane things like buses to register to vote. 02Photographer Nick Meek took charge of shooting both the still and video images. 03Time was spent getting the perfect locations; the bathroom scene was shot in a house in North London. 04The colour palette needed to be subtle and avoid colours that are associated with political parties – but an exception was made for the yellow duck. 05Creating the stills and video at the same time, in the same place, meant that the whole campaign is strikingly integrated.