The Electoral Commission

The independent body which oversees elections and regulates political finance in the UK

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2017 local elections campaign in Great Britain


  1. Advertising
  2. Partnerships and public relations
  3. What we did to promote the voting system in Scotland
  4. What others did to promote voter registration
  5. Campaign performance


General audience

The elections taking place were to local authorities, so we made ‘local’ the focal point of our advertising. To get people thinking about the impact their vote could have in their area we used the strapline: “They’re happening on your doorstep”, and used creative with images of doormats, the text of which could be varied by audience and message.

The cover of our voter information guide for Scotland

Our advertising was deployed across the following channels: TV, video on demand (VOD), social media, search, radio (Scotland and Wales only) and digital display (Scotland only.)

We repurposed our TV and radio ads, updating them with our new campaign strapline. In our TV ad, we incorporated the doormat image into the endframe to ensure the creative approach was fully integrated. This was a way of delivering value for money by not incurring entirely new creative costs, while also keeping our campaign fresh.

An example of our On Your Doorstep Facebook advertisingA screenshot of the end frame of our TV ad

We faced a significant challenge when buying TV advertising for the campaign for two reasons:

There were no elections taking place in Greater London. As such we needed to exclude London from our TV buying to avoid causing confusion. This meant we had to buy TV by region, rather than across the whole of Great Britain, which increased our costs and limited our reach.

This created the further problem of people in neighbouring counties with local elections, but who receive London TV, potentially missing out. To mitigate this we increased our VOD advertising and bought highly targeted digital TV advertising in the area to ensure no-one with elections missed out on seeing our message.

There were different registration deadlines in Scotland and England and Wales. This meant that we could not use the registration deadline in areas which covered both Scotland and England. This affected the ITV Borders broadcast region, and Channel 4 Scotland, which includes a significant area of Northern England.

Both of these factors led to a loss of value in our campaign. To counteract this we increased our VOD advertising across Great Britain. Since it can be precisely targeted we were able to avoid any issues with message confusion and show versions of our TV ad with the correct registration deadline throughout Great Britain.

Social activity for under-registered groups

We created Facebook ads targeted to students, recent home movers, 16- and 17-year-olds in Scotland and armed forces personnel. We also ran mobile-only digital banner advertising aimed at first-time voters in Scotland.

Our activity aimed at armed forces personnel was focussed on those serving overseas with a smaller level of activity targeting personnel in the UK, to supplement what they would see from our other advertising.

We also targeted supporters of the armed forces, and asked people to share the ad if they wanted to help make sure armed forces personnel didn’t lose their right to vote.

An example of our Armed Forces Facebook advertisingAn example of our Facebook advertising targeted at young peopleAn example of our Facebook advertising targeted at homemoversAn example of our 'Fastest tutorial ever' Facebook advertising targeted at young people

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