Election horror pictures shown

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U.K. elections are renowned for hard-hitting but witty print and poster ads that raise the profile of the sparring ad agencies (political ads on TV are limited to unwieldy five-minute Party Political Broadcasts).

The Labour Party, 20 points ahead of the hapless Conservatives in the polls, has tapped Omnicom Group's TBWA, London, and Trevor Beattie, its chairman and creative director, the enfant terrible creative director behind the provocative Wonderbra campaign and fcuk ads for retailer French Connection.

For the Labour Party, TBWA has developed a movie-poster style, with William Hague, the unpopular Conservative Leader and his party's candidate for prime minister, paired with Conservative politician Michael Portillo as the stars in a series of horror flicks lambasting past Conservative policies.

In "Towering Interest Rates," for example, both men's heads appear in front of a Towering Inferno-style building, and the blurb "Millions of people trapped by two men's incompetence." In another film, "The Repossessed," no home is safe from spiraling interest rates.

Ironically, Saatchi & Saatchi became a household name as the agency behind three election victories for the Conservatives and Margaret Thatcher, starting in 1979 with the famous print ad showing a snaking line of jobless people waiting for government assistance and the simple line "Labour isn't working."

The Conservatives remained in power until Tony Blair's 1997 victory. This time around, the Conservative Party agency is Yellow M, an independent agency based in Newcastle-upon-Tyne that has targeted its campaign at Britain's struggling public services.

For the first time, ad spending has been capped by the government, with each party limited to spending $22 million on its election advertising.

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