I’ve been thinking about this a lot over the last few weeks since the first debate and thought it would be good to relate the huge surge of support for the Liberal Democrats to a consumer brand – which they have effectively become when they are ‘advertised’ in such a high profile manner.
I think the answer is simple.
By allowing Nick Clegg to stand on the stage next to the two major brands of Labour and Conservative, they were giving them the equivalent of a supermarket listing for a minor brand.
For a minor brand to get a listing in the likes of Tesco, they are immediately given the assurance that ‘if it has been chosen by Tesco to be sold, then it must be okay’ as the overarching brand is that of Tesco as a distributor and comes with their own big brand reassurance. Similarly, a place on that platform came with the assurance that they must be broadly equal in stature.
Likewise for Nick Clegg to be ‘offered for sale’ alongside the market leaders it comes down to whether the consumers like the packaging and the price and feel like a change from the main brands. He’s a good looking bloke (I haven’t got a man crush or anything) and he speaks well. He also constantly refers to the other two parties as the OLD parties – a really important differentiation for the younger voters/buyers.
I have asserted on many occasions that the future is unbranded, and many of us will always choose the guest beer in a pub rather than being herded into the mainstream brands – This is the same principle. It is a brand backlash against the mainstream brands and may be here to stay.
So the mistake came in agreeing to the debate in the first place. They gave they Lib Dems a listing that their previous size may not have warranted. There was no place for UKIP, the awful BNP or the SNP, despite their late court protestations.
If the Lib Dems do sweep into some form of shared power then I believe it all stems from their amazing move to get themselves onto the debate platform in the first place.
I can’t wait to see the outcome on Thursday night.