Johnny Rotten advertised butter. The Prime Minister’s wife has a tattoo. There are sex scenes in The Archers.
Everything which is ever new, or attention-grabbing, ends up mainstream. The journey from rebellion to co-option is short – such is the genius and the curse of an imaginative society.
The latest example is today’s PR stunt by the Lib Dems. Remember the first time secret government papers were caught on camera by the zoom lenses of photographers in Downing Street? It was a remarkable moment – a rare insight into the unguarded thoughts of ministers in an age of careful choreography and memorised soundbites.
Well, it’s over. Today, the new Lib Dem Director of Strategy, Ryan Coetzee, “accidentally” flashed a supposed draft of his party’s manifesto to the waiting snappers.
The quote marks are deserved – not only was the document helpful held facing out in both hands, but it was helpfully head ‘The Front Page’, assisting the media in concluding this was from a document to be published rather than a briefing note or memo.
Ryan Coetzee leaving Lib Dem Political meeting before Cabinet this morning seemed to be showing me there future plans pic.twitter.com/TReplSoKwn
— Political Pictures (@PoliticalPics) October 21, 2014
Convenient, eh? And it’s certainly succeeded in “accidentally” getting more people talking about Lib Dem messages than any press release would. Though more than a few have speculated on quite how it came about:
The only way the libdem “mistake” could have been more cartoonishly obvious is if point 1 had been “TELL THE ELECTORATE HOW SEXY NICK IS”
— Willard Foxton (@WillardFoxton) October 21, 2014
It does elicit that feeling of seeing a one-time punk hero yelling about the benefits of Country Life, but it’s clever PR. After all, that got us talking, too.