Disastrous PS poster campaigns play perfectly into coalition’s hands

A double-dose of election campaign “disasters” have played perfectly into the coalition government’s hands, with political commentators suggesting that with advertising “tricks” like these the Socialists don’t stand a chance.

Previously neck-and-neck in the polls, the PS nightmares began with what they thought was a slick billboard focusing on the long-term unemployed, and the government’s finessing of jobless figures.

What they got wrong was the date.

The grim face that declared: “I have been unemployed for five years without subsidy or support” was a year out. Five years ago the Socialists were still in power with jailed former prime minister José Sócrates at the helm, and thus the message bombed like a lead balloon.

Hastily apologising and relieving themselves publicly of the services of “marketing specialist” Edson Athayde, the PS went on to shoot themselves multiple times in both feet by producing a set of campaign posters using “bogus” models.

Again, the message was about long-term unemployment and how so many victims are being ignored.

But in the new posters, the “models” were quickly identified to be in full-time employment of Arroios parish council – with one claiming she was “not even aware” that her face would be used to perpetuate a lie.

“I have been unemployed since 2012, for the government I don’t exist. There are 200,000 like me”, were the words “associated with the face of council worker Maria João Pinto”, writes Diário de Notícias – adding that the woman is “absolutely outraged” and has already consulted a lawyer.

It’s a story that promises to get even worse, as Pinto has told newspapers she was called into the office of her parish council president boss at the end of July and practically pressganged into posing for a photo “for the campaign of António Costa”.

With SIC TV political commentator Marques Mendes’ affirming that with “weeks like this, the Socialists will lose the elections”, PSD MPs have delighted in the gaffs and are making as much political mileage out of them as possible.

For the PS, it has been a case of repeated mass billboard removal throughout the country, with the sacking of yet another “marketing specialist”.

But instead of finding new blood with a grasp of mathematics and a handle on reality, the party is reported to have reinstated Edson Athayde whose next stroke of genius has been to issue new posters, depicting Socialist leader António Costa above the words: “It is time for trust”.

What opposition parties will make of this, the mind boggles.

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