Ninety minutes is a long time in politics

Mike Parker, is head of strategic sales & commercial marketing at Channel 4, on what the changing fortunes of Nick Clegg tell us about the strength of television as a medium for getting brands talked about.
Apparently it was Harold Wilson back in the sixties who said ” A week is a long time in politics”. The turnaround in Nick Clegg’s fortunes after one ninety minute TV debate, suggests that even ninety minutes might be a long time in politics, never mind a week.
So Nick Clegg’s changed fortune tells us something about politics, but it probably tells even more about television as a medium and its strength to get brands talked about. And Nick Clegg is a brand.


This was going to be the social media election. Twitter, Facebook and the like were going to be more important than traditional old media such as posters and television. It is quite staggering how wrong those predictions have been, well in respect of TV anyway.
Social media has not failed to be important in this election. It is just that TV has proved its primary strength in raising awareness, changing perception and creating brand consideration. TV has created talkability in the elections from the first minute of that first Leaders Debate.
Twenty four hours before the first debate, Nick Clegg was largely unknown, not a big player and struggling in the polls. Within five minutes of the programme finishing all that had changed.
The big difference is that talkability is now fed as much by social media as by spoken word of mouth. So TV’s ability to get brands talked about has become magnified many times by the importance of social media. And the speed at which that ‘conversation’ is disseminated is absolutely frightening.
I cannot think of a better reminder to the media and marketing community of how powerful TV is. Moreover online media have not supplanted the power of TV, merely added to its amazing power.


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  • Jeremy Lee

    All good points Mike. And as those viewers of Live from Studio Five have found out, sixty minutes can be a very long time in television.