Tuesday 22 January 2019

Savage i: Scary Dylan's YouTube hit is a lesson for Fianna Fail

The name Dylan Haskins -- featured in today's Dubliner magazine -- may not mean a lot to you if you're not living in Dublin South, where he's running as an Independent.

I think of Dylan every day, largely because one of his posters is outside the window of my office and it, like the John Gormley poster above it, has turned sideways on its lamppost, so John and Dylan gaze benignly at me all day. Well, John looks benign, Dylan looks like Rick Astley's angry younger brother.

This slightly threatening demeanour shouldn't be held against Dylan, because despite appearances, he is at the vanguard of modern politics.


We've long laboured under laws that limit how much broadcast advertising can be used by politicians.

The logic of this legislation is good; airtime is both influential and expensive; so elections can be won by deep pockets, not deep thoughts.

But the internet has provided the platform to circumvent that legislation.

On YouTube (search for Dylan Haskins) there is a beautifully shot and edited video from Dylan, which has been viewed nearly 30,000 times (remarkable for a candidate with no money).

Dylan ain't at the races with the traditional stuff (like expressing what he's about in concrete and memorable terms) but with new media he's achieving things few others have.

There's a lesson in this for Micheal Martin; after the election Fianna Fail will have time on its hands, which it could use to make the party the first true new-media party in Ireland. And, if they take that leap, one of the first staff members they should hire is Dylan Haskins.

- Don Draper has a dialogue line in Mad Men to the tune of "advertising is about emotion and aspiration. Only PR people come up with ads driven by data". By that logic, Labour must have a lot of PR people. They ran anti-FG print ads featuring crisp, clean images of wine, new cars and a happy baby with the strap-line "look what Fine Gael have in store for you!" As an experiment, I showed this ad to colleagues and asked what they thought of it. "It's not very good." I asked why. "Because it took me ages to work out it was an ad for Fine Gael, I thought it was for Tesco."

- Labour does still have time to have a proper go at the Blueshirts, so here are some rules it needs to apply; 1) make the image scary (remember the ad showing Tony Blair with evil eyes), 2) attack a single thing (remember "health cuts hurt the old, the sick and the handicapped") 3) launch the ads to widen their impact (press conference in Buswells, with a campaigning statement like "Labour will expose Fine Gael's hidden habit of molesting chickens". (Actually, on reflection, maybe they shouldn't use that exact phrase. But you get the point.)

- The men who will lead both our Government and our Opposition are as able to do so in our native language as they are in our inherited tongue. That is something to be proud of. Last night's was also the best of the debates by a mile, as bearla no as gaeilge. Congratulations to TG4 and Eimear ni Chonaola.

- Martin McGuinness has said Fianna Fail is trying to win votes by accusing Gerry Adams of being in the IRA. Do you think it occurred to him that a former member of the IRA army council mentioning 'the IRA' and 'Gerry Adams' in the same sentence mightn't be the smartest way to make people forget the accusation?

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