Better Together's campaign advertisement The Woman Who Made Up Her Mind caused controversy and accusations of sexism last week with what some called her patronising tone.

The Yes campaign launched an ad of their own, based on the idea of hope and optimism.

We asked two agency professionals for their take on the how successful the ad campaigns from both sides of the debate have been.

Shaun Mcilrath, global creative director for iris

Good advertising is about producing a simple, clear and exciting dramatisation of a product truth.

The problem with political advertising is that politicians are often incapable of being simple, clear, exciting or, as most people would concur, truthful.

Remember, we live in a time when the phrase "a political answer" is universally acknowledged as an avoidance of the truth.

We don't like politicians. We see them as self-serving opportunists who'll say anything we want to hear just to keep their noses in the trough a little longer.

So what happens when they actually need to convey something important?

Well, as these campaigns prove, they can't.

Let's start with the Better Together campaign.

A politician has climbed into a housewife costume, and is sitting in a kitchen trying to convince us that it's all too confusing and we best not worry our little heads about it.

Now I'm not Scottish, but this makes even me want to paint a blue stripe on my face and go Mel Gibson on anyone south of Dumfries.

It's classic fear-based messaging, throwing up a fog of questions in an attempt to stall change.

The YES campaign is better.

It's cheesier than Tesco's dairy aisle, but at least there's a truth.

"Independence. It's what we want in our lives - so why not for our country?" Why not indeed?

This is followed by lots of good facts about the country's wealth. But sadly, no hint of a plan.

The best on offer is "Scotland's future in Scotland's hands".

And all that says to your average punter is "so the muppets up here will be in charge, rather than the muppets in Westminster".

Which may be good or bad depending on your point of view. But given it's easier to do nothing, and that gravity always works against change - it may just not be enough.


Neil Christie, managing director Wieden + Kennedy

Two independence referendum ads have been running this week, one from the pro-independence Yes campaign and one from anti-independence Better Together.

Both groups of campaigners will have hoped to generate discussion and debate around their ads and BT has certainly done that, though not in the way they presumably intended.

Public reaction to the BT ad has been overwhelmingly negative, with people describing it as patronizing and offensive towards women.

Some say that it perpetuates a stereotypical view of women as failing to understand politics.

Online, the #PatronisingBTLady hashtag and meme gained a lot of traction, with some amusing responses.

The Yes campaign ad has generated far less buzz, with only 1/10th as many views on YouTube.

But what comment there is about the Yes film is generally favourable.

Why have the two ads generated such different responses? Both try to appeal to the emotions.

But each takes a very different approach.

The Yes campaign's "Yes Means" film is a sunny, optimistic montage featuring Scots of all ages preparing for a new day.

"Look out world, here I come," says a long-haired student, as Highland lochs sparkle, children play happily in the sunshine, and active old folks joyfully dance in a presumably comfortable and fulfilling retirement.

The ad ends with a classic, perhaps clichéd, symbol of hope - a baby's hand reaching for that of its parent.

The No campaign's ad, "The Woman Who Made Up Her Mind" also references the next generation, but in a very different way.

This film features only one character: a housewife, sitting in her kitchen, who talks directly to the viewer as if to a friend who's dropped in for coffee.

The housewife feels she lacks the facts required to make an informed decision about independence.

"All this uncertainty bothers me so much," she says.

The more I think about it, independence seems like one big gamble". She seems anxious but "There's one thing I do know: I will not be gambling with my children's future … So that'll be a no from me."

One positive ad that offers optimism, one negative one that evokes fear.

One says - vote yes in the hope of something better.

The other says - vote no for fear of something worse.

Which approach is more likely to be successful?

There's no clear evidence as to whether positive or negative messages are more effective in political campaigning.

Obama swept to power on the back of a message of "hope" but arguably Britain's most famous political ad is "Labour Isn't Working", the iconic poster of the Conservatives' successful 1979 general election campaign.

So you could argue that either approach can be successful, it just depends on how well you do it.

How well have the Yes and No campaigns done it here? The No film appears to be a potentially disastrous mistake.

The undecided woman is transparently a Frankenstein's monster cobbled together from spare parts of strategy and research group comments.

At no point do we believe in her as a living person with real concerns that we can share.

She's a voter segmentation profile brought unconvincingly to life - "Fearful Fiona".

It's easy to see why the ad has been criticised and in places ridiculed for its patronising approach.

The "Sunshine On Leith" approach of the Yes ad, on the other hand, presents a range of likeable characters who are proud and positive about the future.

We don't believe in them as real people, they're obviously actors, but they're not so obviously fake as to undermine the message.

This is a feel-good, confident piece of work with a welcoming, upbeat tone.

For any ad, the ultimate test is whether it moves us and makes us feel and think differently.

Which of these has the power to do that?

Ironically, Fearful Fiona, the ad that all too obviously tries hard to show that it understands voters, gets it so badly wrong that it has the reverse of the intended effect: it shows that BT don't understand women voters at all.

We can't empathise with this implausible character and we feel irritated and patronised.

The Yes ad presents a vision of Scotland that is arguably a bit too much Coca-Cola, not enough Irn-Bru, to touch the heart as powerfully as it might have done, but its more sympathetic characters and rousing mood do inspire feelings of pride, of optimism and of hope. In the battle of the ads at least, the Ayes have it.