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Here's the real story behind those Labour ads you might have seen lately

Just how ordinary are the ordinary people featured in the 30-second videos you might have seen in your feed?

OVER THE PAST few weeks you may have seen a number of Labour-sponsored videos on your Facebook feed.

The three 30-second videos are an unusual departure for an Irish political party in that they do not feature any politicians.

Instead we see ’ordinary people’ talking about how things are getting better for them.

There’s a young woman getting ready for work on what looks like the first day of a new job:

Source: Labour/YouTube

There’s a young family talking about plans they have to improve their home:

Source: Labour/YouTube

And there’s a coffee shop owner talking about how business has been picking up over the last 18 months:

Source: Labour/YouTube

The videos are the brainchild of Bloom Advertising, which has done its fair share of work for Labour in recent years.

The ad agency was behind that infamous ‘Every Little Hurts’ newspaper spot during the 2011 general election.

Many Labour TDs have since acknowledged the ad has proved hugely damaging in recent years as the party ended up implementing many of the measures it warned Fine Gael would do if allowed the govern alone.

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The ‘Better for… ‘ videos are part of a number of campaigns Labour is planning in the run-up to the general election as it attempts to show voters how it has contributed to the delivery of the economic recovery.

“Voters aren’t connecting the recovery with what the government is doing and those that are are connecting it more with Fine Gael and not Labour,” said a senior party source.

The ads are an attempt to “humanise” the recovery and show how ordinary people are benefiting, the source said.

But how ordinary are they? 

Though they are not actors, the participants are in almost all cases friends or acquaintances of the principals at the production company, Marmalade Films.

The participants were also paid for their involvement. Marmalade even advertised for one of the spots on its Facebook page:

marmaladepaidgig (1)

Labour said it met these costs and that the exact amount paid to those involved was “a matter between ourselves and the individuals”.

Marmalade Films’ creative director Daniel Hegarty said it is “standard practice” to pay people for taking part in documentary work. He added:

We often use our own networks, ask friends of friends, and that’s what we did in this case.

Colin Harmon, owner of the 3FE café on Lower Grand Canal St in Dublin, told us he took part in the “Better for Business” ad to help out his friends at Marmalade Films.

They wanted someone to do an ad in a small business in Dublin, and were running up against a tight deadline, so they asked me.

labourcolinharmon

Harmon, a former Irish barista champion, says he has voted for Labour in the past, and is a “big fan of some of their people,” but feels similarly about Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil.

For his time, Harmon says he was paid “a few hundred quid” by the production company.

Siobhan and Colin, the couple in the “Better for Families” video did not respond to TheJournal.ie‘s requests for a comment.

labourad2

However, our research shows they too are long-standing acquaintances of the principles at Marmalade Films.

Gemma Crowe, who appears in the “Better for Jobs” ad, declined to talk to TheJournal.ie about her participation.

gemmacrowelabour

The ads have been targeted at particular demographics on Facebook over the last few weeks with the party primarily aiming them at families with children and younger, cosmopolitan voters.

The senior party source added: “That’s the reason why we didn’t want to have politicians in them because politicians telling people the recovery is great is actually going to have the opposite effect and turn them off.”

Labour declined to comment on how much in total it spent on the campaign, including production and distribution on Facebook.

- additional reporting from Dan MacGuill 

Read: Labour TD: That Tesco ad has haunted us>

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About the author:

Hugh O'Connell

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