Almost Half Of Tory Candidates Avoid Obvious Party Branding In Online Campaign Ads

New research suggests parliamentary hopefuls want to play down their links to the Conservatives.
Rishi Sunak's campaign has lurched from disaster to disaster.
Rishi Sunak's campaign has lurched from disaster to disaster.
Leon Neal via Getty Images

Almost half of Conservative candidates seem to downplay their connections to the main Tory party in their campaign adverts, new research has found.

Sky’s Online Campaign Team worked with the digital ad monitor, Who Targets Me, and looked at the branding on 521 political adverts from Labour and Conservative hopefuls published Facebook and instagram.

Between May 1 and June 12, the research found 53% of the Conservative ads were branded with the party’s official logos and colours.

But, 32% were only partly branded – and 15% were completely unbranded.

The findings noted that almost three-quarters of those who had partial branding only mentioned the Tories in the funding disclosure section, where it is obligatory,

But, these adverts did not name the Conservative party anywhere else, and carry the blue party colours.

Even defence secretary Grant Shapps, veterans’ minister Johnny Mercer and former Tory leader Sir Iain Duncan Smith, appeared to have avoided obviously revealing their party in their ad.

In comparison, 90% of Labour candidates had the party’s branding included in their promotional content; 8% were partly branded and just 2% were unbranded.

And, out of those who had partly branded adverts, all mentioned Labour in the written text and in the funding disclosure.

The researchers noticed a similar pattern for physical leaflets, too, where some candidates tried to avoid mentioning they were standing on a Conservative platform.

This distancing tactic was also used by Tory mayors, Ben Houchen and Andy Street, earlier this year when they were trying to be re-elected in May.

Houchen returned to office by Street lost to Labour candidate Richard Parker.

Tory candidate Andrea Jenkyns – a former minister – went for a more extreme approach and included a photo of herself with the leader of a different party, Reform’s Nigel Farage, in her leaflet.

Another candidate, Neil Mahapatra, also admitted in his election address that the Tory Party “has disappointed” the public since 2019, adding: “I am so very sorry.”

Meanwhile, former Tory MP Lucy Allan – who is not standing for re-election – endorsed a Reform candidate to replace her earlier this month, and was quickly suspended from the party.

It comes as the Tories have slipped down past Reform in a recent YouGov poll, supposedly falling to third place among voters.


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