We are one month away from election day, and it is time to get serious about who will play a role in the lives of us all for the next four years. As the Conservatives are presumably in the lead of the popular polls, there are a few things I would like to bring to light. This post is not about policies – click here if this is what you are looking for – it is hardly even about politics. It is about personality, and trust. So, to begin the story, let’s look at the recent history of David Cameron.

http://static.guim.co.uk/sys-images/Guardian/Pix/pictures/2010/2/19/1266605392813/David-Cameron-at-the-laun-004.jpg

Mr. Cameron has had only one job outside of politics, which he got because colleagues said he needed to get out of the ‘whitehall bubble’, in order to get a seat as an MP. So he became a PR man for Carlton TV. He got the job through his mother-in-law-to-be, who persuaded the chairman, Michael Green, to take David Cameron on – despite the fact he had no previous experience. From the responses of his dealings with the press, it turned out he wasn’t particularly good at relating to the public. Out of his interviews with seven Financial and Business journalists, one gave a positive response of Mr. Cameron, one was neutral, and five were negative. Here are some things journalists had to say about him at the time;

  • “In my experience, Cameron never gave a straight answer when dissemblance was a plausible alternative, which probably makes him perfectly suited for the role he now seeks: the next Tony Blair”. “I wouldn’t trust him with my daughter’s pocket-money” – Jeff Randall, a chief executive of the Daily Telegraph
  • A “poisonous, slippery individual” – Ian King, The Sun Business Editor

The network itself was also untrustworthy; in 1998, while Cameron was working there, the television industry regulator ITC penalised Carlton with a record-breaking £2 million fine for largely fabricating a ‘documentary’, and thereby breaching the broadcasting codes. In 1999, Cameron got into trouble with the Express on Sunday for trying to make it seem as if there were a higher number of subscribers for a new digital service that Carlton was offering than the actual, true number. In 2001, he left to fight for the election, which was lost to New Labour.

In 2005, David Cameron went for the Conservative Party leadership, and won it, with help from a pregnancy (see footnote) and fellow Etonians in the party. His first job was not to bring any new policies to the table – i.e. to do any real change – but to rebrand the Tory image. He branded himself as a ‘greenie’ by having photographers take pictures of him cycling to work. Of course, the car that drove in front of him, that carried all his stuff every day, was not in the photo. He then branded the entire conservative party ‘environmental’ – although their policies don’t exactly point in that direction – by commissioning a new logo;

A tree. They say it’s an oak, although it doesn’t look much like one. It was immediately criticised as being childish and messy, and also a shameless greenwash. But there is a further controversy. It involves a subliminal message written into the tree. You may not like it, and indeed, it is illegal – but in the marketing and packaging world, such techniques are common practice for major corporations. The situation stands because subliminal messages are so hard to prove. But I can make a pretty strong case.

Look at the image again. Designers who incorporate subliminal messages into their work do so within a chaotic background, so the message can be hidden, but still readable. So that explains the messiness. Now, if the above is meant to be a creative, free-flowing hand-drawn design, why do we find two straight lines that appear to cross each other in the top-left area? This is an anomaly in the overall design of the tree – but below is the reason it is there;

This SX technique, suggesting the word ‘SEX’ (don’t laugh, this is serious) has been used by the Coca-Cola corporation for many years. As has the whole word;

Both of these examples become all the more apparent when the image is shrunk down to more bite-size proportions;

Here are a couple of examples from other ‘products’;

Ok, so people who sell us sugar-based confectionary use subliminal messaging. We can take that. But a political party that might get in at the next election? Doesn’t seem believable, does it? So, lets get a bit more background on the Conservative Logo story.

The Head of Brand Communications for the Conservative party is Anna-Maren Ashford, and her first job, under David Cameron, was to re-brand the party. Anna-Maren Ashford is a bright, bossy, intelligent girl who studied Biological Sciences. Instead of a PhD, she took a job in marketing, wherein her main assignment was working on a Virgin Mobile campaign – a company notorious for their entirely in-your-face use of sex to sell their products.

The Conservative party spent somewhere in the region of £40,000 on their new logo. For £40,000 pounds, there are no accidents. Everything is screened, researched, checked, and double checked. The company that were recruited to do the design were the London based agency Perfect Day. Now, to be paid that much, the company must have spent their time doing something, because (as with the Glasgow Commonwealth Games logo controversy) they didn’t spend much on coming up with the idea;

But the thing that really confirmed my research and made me certain of the deliberate use of a subliminal message was a conversation I had on a train a few weeks back. I sat next to a woman who was from a well-known packaging design firm in the South-West. We talked about all sorts; how people get passed along within the industry like pieces in a board game, how sex is used and abused in advertising. When I mentioned the Conservative logo, she went quiet, and looked at me, then asked me how I knew that. I said I’d done my own research. She told me, somewhat hesitantly, that people in the packaging design industry have talked about the Conservative logo for years – Firstly, about its blatant copying from the Irish Progressive Democrats. And secondly, for its use of subliminal messaging. The general public don’t know about this because people in advertising work in a closed world – they sign a confidentiality statement with the firm they work for, and they know that if ever they become a whistleblower, they will never get a job in the packaging design industry again. So, publicly denouncing a design wouldn’t be in their personal interest. This is why she requested that she remain anonymous. However, if there are any social science academics/ex-packaging industry people who would like to support the claim by leaving comment, please do.

And if these ‘random letters that appeared in the dust’ were enough for Disney to edit the scene and scramble the word out for the DVD release, then shouldn’t the Conservative Party have their little logo anomaly edited too?

Take part in the vote below to determine whether you think the Conservative Logo has a subliminal message in it or not.


(results from last poll (ref: polldaddy 3017829) – replaced so there could be more ‘no’ options – “Yes, but designers put it there” – 0 votes… “Yes, Cameron knew about it” – 7 votes… “No, this is all nonsense” – 6 votes… “Possibly” – 2 Votes…)

For now, we are left with the creepy possibility (or reality) that under the influence of David Cameron, the Conservatives have a subliminal message worked into their logo. ‘What’s the big deal’, you may think? Well, for starters, it is illegal in the UK – I wrote to the the ASA (Advertising Standards Authority), and that was their response. Secondly, it is matter of coercive manipulation. A party that seeks to get in power, or that does get in power, with this technique as a ‘weapon’ should not be allowed to govern. Thirdly, it is effective, even if only to a very small percentage of people. Just watch a Derren Brown video to find out how much. This logo that the Conservative Party developed would have gone through tests within research groups, and people would have been shown a variety of logos, some with the subliminal message, some without. The one with the subliminal message would have been accepted because there was greater number people who were drawn to it over the alternatives. But it is small percentages that can win or lose elections.

David Cameron is a confusing man full of contradictions. When he became leader, he said he was fed up with “the punch and judy politics of westminster” and that people should “stop moaning about Britain” – yet if you look at conservative advertising, this is the very focus of their campaign. It is also odd that his campaign slogan of ‘change’ (on the back of Obama’s success) ironically contradicts the name of the party, ‘conservative’. Obama himself publicly shared his opinion that Cameron is “all sizzle and no substance”, and said that with him in power, Anglo-American relations would be strained. I could go on. There are many reasons why David Cameron is a bad leader. Just do some research.

Yet, despite all of the above, politics shouldn’t be about personalities, or propaganda, about these people that like to blow up their faces on billboards. It should be about policies. To find out, in a neutral way, who you really want to vote for, check out the website where you can vote for policies, not personalities. You don’t even have to vote for logo’s either. Just plain, simple truth. ‘In politics?!’, I hear you cry? You may be surprised. The world is changing, after all. We’ve just got to make sure we end up with a world that is clearer and more honest, and not the reverse.

(For a few more entertaining examples of subliminal messages in advertising, check out this site and this site)

…This last bit I’ve left as a footnote, as it is controversial, and some may people find it offensive, as it involves personal life – but if a public figure announces their personal life to the public through the press, then it is arguably open for public debate. In 2005, Cameron went for the Tory leadership. At the time, Sam, his wife, was pregnant, and he was pictured with his hand on her belly. He won. In 2010, A month before the election is due, it is announced Sam is pregnant. David Cameron’s poll ratings show an instant 12% jump, as expected. Most pregnancies by responsible adults in modern society are planned. It is David and Sam’s every right to have a child, and I’m sure as a family they wanted to have another child. I wish them luck, and the kid luck too. But the question begs; why would someone want the responsibility of a baby in what would potentially be their first term as Prime Minister, when they may have the responsibility of the whole country to manage? Is there also a political side to this, considering it has happened and significantly aided the public perception of him during not one, but two of his major political campaigns? You decide…

13 Responses to “The Consexative Logo”

  1. Dan said

    Obama’s never publically said anything like that about Cameron. Or Brown. Or Clegg…. what’s your source for this?

  2. Michelle said

    This is all very interesting. The likelyhood of me ever voting Tory is so remote anyway that even if they were to blatantly offered me sex and chocolate for the rest of my natural life – I still wouldn’t vote for them.

    What is the percentage of the population which would be suseptable to subliminal messaging ???? Does anyone know – and does it involve frontal lobotomy patients?

  3. Can you edit the footnote? Cameron’s wife is called Sam, not Sarah. But your sentiment is right about the pregnancy, who goes into the most gruelling 6 months of their life and does not take steps to make sure that their partner (who will also suffer from the pressure) does not get pregnant. The pregnancy was planned.

  4. alialib said

    Why doesn’t a major broadsheet newspaper (The Guardian say) publish this!? Surely this is huge?

    • penchanteur said

      hmmm… that was my original intention. You think I should give them a ring? Perhaps I will tomorrow. Till then, spread the word through this wonderful free media we’ve got.

      • Dan said

        At the same time you could show them Labour and the Lib Dem’s logos ;)

        Lab: http://i41.tinypic.com/2wp6n1t.png

        Lib Dem: http://i43.tinypic.com/24zeoef.png
        In fact, the Lib Dem’s logo is just full of S’s and X’s.

        Hmmmm…

      • penchanteur said

        Dan – you have to draw the line between what is what and what is not. With subliminal messaging you have to decide that, after the red outlines have been taken away, can the letters still be distinctly seen. With the Labour logo, what you pointed out is possibly just enough to be significant – but it is a lot more indistuinguishable, than in the conservative logo. With the Lib dem logo, there isn’t an X…. all the lines are smooth and curvy – and there is no chaotic messy element in which to hide such a message. But you do have a point. a good way to check this isn’t just crazy mental perception is trying to find other three letter words – e.g. AND, TIM, BEN, BOX, POG, WET, NIT, ETC, etc etc…. can any others be seen? no? can SEX still be seen? yes? Then we may have a subliminal on our hands

  5. penchanteur said

    also, the other condition is that the letters are on the same (or a very similar) plane, that the letters read from left to right, and that the letters appear in a chronological order. For all these factors to appear coincidentally is very unlikely – Dan, you may have spotted something I didn’t bother to look for, in the case of the Labour logo. I have just e-mailed Derren Brown. He shall come to our rescue.

  6. Joseph said

    Great post! Well done for noticing, if you’re right it confirms reservations of mine about Cameron.

    You’ll note Cameron talked a few years ago about a ‘Revolution in responsibility’ among other revolutions. This is not language that appeals to the genuine or dispositional conservative. Cameron is clearly following Blair in trying to capture ‘floating voters’, and it’s a terrible shame, these people are usually the least interested in politics and the country and the last we should trust to decide on our future governments.

    I have to disagree though, politics isn’t about policies. It’s about philosophies, or more properly, ideologies. An ideology is a grouping of concepts decontested in a certain way to allow for political action, with certain core concepts (liberty, for liberals), marginal concepts (marginal because of their temporal nature, the natural rights argument for liberty in the case of liberals) and peripheral concepts (these are generally policies or what inform policies.) Policies can, do and will change very quickly, ideologies much more slowly. To choose a party, you have to look closely at the ideology of that party, what its members and politicians turn to in order to formulate policies in the first place. Involvement in politics requires research and reflection, not a quick look at a party’s manifesto. (See Michael Freeden, Ideologies and Political Theory, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1998.)

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