MaltaToday, 30 Jan 2008 | Billboards speak louder than words
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NEWS | Wednesday, 30 January 2008

Billboards speak louder than words

If the first campaign billboards are anything to go by, Elections 2008 are likely to be characterised by image consciousness, stage-management and more media-savvy sophistication than ever more. Not to mention a touch of plagiarism for good measure.
The Nationalist Party’s first, tentative campaign billboards were given much prominence this week for all the wrong reasons… after it transpired that much of the imagery, as well as the campaign slogan, had been “borrowed” from French President Nicolas Sarkozy’s campaign in 2007. Also, it is fast becoming clear that the Nationalist strategy is to focus exclusively on the figure of the party leader. Just as Sarko’s campaign sought to build up the image of the French centre-right politician to the status of a larger-than-life celebrity, the PN strategists also saw fit to present only Lawrence Gonzi on its pre-election visuals, to the exclusion of all other candidates. With Labour currently portraying the return of Alfred Sant in a similar “Grand Homme” vein, the initial salvoes of the campaign strongly indicate that Malta, in spite of its proportional representation electoral model, is gearing up for a purely Presidential election.
But while plagiarism has clearly become an issue with the PN – look under Pippo Psaila for further details – it must be said there are also differences. For unlike statesmanlike Sarko, Gonzi is depicted in comfortable-looking, colour-neutral woollies, and striking numerous casual poses in the company of wholesome-looking Maltese families.
The effect speaks volumes about the Nationalist party’s hopes and aspirations, and also about its fears and insecurities.

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