There is something vaguely unsettling about Swiss political advertising. I suppose this is to a large extent due to its ubiquity – the sheer acreage of Helvetic billboard space dedicated to political parties, manifestos and referenda far outstrips that found in any other country I know. When voting season opens, it is impossible to walk down any medium-sized avenue or ruelle without stumbling across some politician or other’s loathsome features stretched to a size normally reserved for the prettier class of underwear model. And let me tell you, universal healthcare does not breed a nation with the clear, acne-free skin and minimum number of teeth one would expect.
Over the past few months, however, this trend has taken a spectacular turn for the worse. Rather than continuing to present us with one political face per poster – a rate of intake to which most Swiss residents have become accustomed – an advertising agency has taken it upon itself to drastically up the dosage. And while I am sorry to spring an offending sample on you without due warning, I am afraid that this is the sort of world we live in.
As you can see, these new adverts are cleverly designed to represent pages of an identikit book constructed from the faces of helpful members of the leading Swiss political parties. The associated slogan: “Define the Face of Switzerland” would, I am sure you will agree, have been all the more resonant were the faces under advisement not so grotesquely deformed. Other delightful versions abound, each representing an exemplar of humanity previously unencountered outside of fondue-induced nightmares.
In one side-street not too far from where I live, for instance, there is one ugly mug whose resemblance to the herring-faced Heinrich Himmler would have to be seen to be believed. I hesitate to draw any conclusions from this observational nugget, but what sort of country wants to vote for a government where the amalgamated average of its individual members equates to the head of the SS? Clearly, the same country which considers this to be an appropriate piece of anti-immigration propaganda.
I don’t know about you, but I find the cut-and-paste faces easier to laugh at.