This year's campaign has happened where most of us spend the majority of our lives – online. It's been surreal, savage and unyielding. One thing's for sure – the content we've been hounded for the past four weeks could ultimately win or lose the election for one party.
As always, our viewpoints have become filtered according to the people we surround ourselves with, the media we choose to read, and the content Facebook chooses to show us. But if we glance objectively at the leading campaign efforts, it's interesting to see how their visual styles have come together to mascot their intrinsic messages. The question is – have they worked?
Parties were helped in no small part by the countless local social media aficionados who parodied, popularised and made utterly accessible every single nuance of the unfolding of the campaign. In the past four weeks it's become quite difficult to wade through the copious mock content to get to official party material.
Doctored-videos, countless political memes, and savage bloggery has made this campaign more watchable than any we've seen in the past twenty years. But whether or not party content has been impactful enough is questionable.
A soft launch
Things didn't start well. When the two leading parties' campaign logos went public, the general feeling was - seriously? The visuals felt rushed, unremarkable, and without soul. And neither side was more inspirational than the other.
But as we enter the final week of the campaign, things have somewhat shifted. Although there hasn't been a stand-out PR game-changer from either of the two leading parties, their respective visions have been consistent.
Labour Party (PL): Positive pastels
The Labour Party have kept things light. From the get-go their message has been self-congratulatory. Their visuals are upbeat – they've strived for a lightness of touch which seems to effortlessly gloss over the prevalent political mud-slinging that has characterised a lot of the campaign. Mirroring their own (now infamous) words, the PL visuals have remained steadfastly serene.
Aside from the lilacs, yellows and mint greens that have worked to ensure that we're positively at ease, the most successful aspect of the PL campaign visuals is that they've steered clear of being too glossy or trendy.
Their official party anthem video is so accessible is borders on being cringey. Their trailer for what promises to be a feature on "The Maltese Dream" (Il-Ħolma Maltija) has a palpable crescendo which definitely stirs patriotic sentiments. Joseph Muscat's name is splashed across our screens in what is as close to headlights as they could possibly get.
Whether this approach has done its job in keeping the electorate close to the party's core message - that PL's shining legislature has only just begun; or if it's infuriated floating voters by not tackling the seriousness of the allegations against the party is yet to be seen.
Nationalist Party (PN): Critical chiaroscuro
In general, the PN aesthetic has been a lot bolder. The focus has been on sullying the collective character of the current government with a decidedly more stark campaign look. Contrast has been amped up and colours have steered clear of anything remotely peppy. Their message isn't laced with the cheerful optimism of their rivals – it's too serious for that.
The most positive streak in their campaign has been the idea of joining forces, of counting on principles, on relying on the good and trustworthy nature of a'different kind' of politics. Their 'zoom-out' series has played up this notion quite successfully. An uncompromising close-up of some of the major players within the party which leaves no room for dishonesty.
And whilst the drama seems have to have worked in that series, their latest, most damning video may have taken its own severity a little too far, turning a stern message into something bordering on theatrical. There's slightly too much visual dependency the poker metaphor. This isn't House of Cards, it's real life.
And while it's definitely effective to have the recent political timeline broken down into a digestible account, this dark narrative feels way too forced. Although PN voters will and have applauded the video, swingers might not be bought by such a 'doom and gloom' rendition – and they're the ones that need convincing.
The Maltese media and public have been working in overdrive to keep up with one of the most fast-paced and climactic elections in the country's history. The decisions on how the campaign needs to look is only one part of a massive machine that's herding us frantically towards the election booth.
The parties' approaches have been completely different – in reductive terms: one light, one dark. The winning choice will be determined on how well the campaigns have succeeded in reminding the people of how satisfied they should be, or on the flip side – how scared.