Taxi for Norwegian Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg

By on Tuesday, August 13, 2013

A European politician is meeting with his marketeers….

– “Why don’t some people like politicians?”
– “Lack of trust and empathy, Mr Prime Minister. You don’t live their lives.”
– “Hmm. Hmm. How can I make them trust me? You know, show that I care?”
– “You need to listen, Prime Minister. Show them you’re listening.”
– “OK. So who usually listens to real people? Who can I BE?”

Silence. Chin scratching and pencil scribbling ensues. Someone is frantically googling ‘trustworthy person on street’. Someone else is poised by the flipchart with a marker. The intern raises their hand. “…A taxi driver?”

Of course, this won’t have been how it was between the Norwegian PM Jens Stoltenberg and his team of marketeers, but somewhere along the way someone in his ‘advertising team’ (according to the reports) did come up with the idea of Mr Stoltenberg driving an Oslo cab for the day. You know, to show he listens.

Pick up was pretty impressive, on the likes of the BBC, Sky News and The Telegraph. Worldwide media coverage made the most of the good imagery and video clips of the passengers, each of whom was filmed, and he does come across quite well in the footage from inside the taxi (in fairness I don’t speak Norwegian so can’t understand what he’s saying – but then I can’t understand what UK politicians are saying a lot of the time either). It’s certainly overtaken ‘drunk on TV’ which unfortunately did previously come up in search engines alongside his name. The BBC kindly linked to his Facebook page and positive party messages come across well in a some of the media pick up (‘The Labour Leader steered [geddit] the economy…through the 2008 crisis virtually unscathed’ is just one little gem) – but much of the coverage does also note his party’s slide in the polls. And he comments on the fact that he hasn’t driven a car for eight years, which doesn’t make him come across as one of the people so well.

I’m not privy to the PR objectives of the Norwegian Labour party’s campaign, or how this fits into the larger picture, but as a PR stunt it has generated huge amounts of media coverage and pretty positive social media chatter.

Whether it works and will have an impact on the polls remains to be seen.

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