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Effective advertising

August 9th, 2010

It’s often debated whether advertising in general, and political advertising in particular, is effective. I can say that the Liberal Party’s TV ads have been effective in ensuring that Liberal candidates will receive my coveted last preference. Of course, the ads aren’t aimed at me, so I just have to hope that the average Australian is not the bigoted fool the Liberal campaign supposes. And, of course, things would be a lot easier if Labor were aiming for something more than my second-last preference.

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  1. rog
    August 9th, 2010 at 17:55 | #1

    Liberal Party ads have ensured that they will be the last choice, over the dead donkey’s body. The continuous and monotonous chant ‘stop the boats’ is so offensive and so insulting on just so many levels.

  2. PeterS
    August 9th, 2010 at 18:12 | #2

    If Labor gets in, they should invite Abbot to be their special Minister For Stopping Boats. See how he gets on then. 🙂

  3. billie
    August 9th, 2010 at 18:13 | #3

    At a Greens campaign launch another disaffected Labor voter said that no Labor supporter had joined the [Labor] party to espouse the beliefs implicit in their campaign policies.

  4. Sam
    August 9th, 2010 at 18:24 | #4

    Turn off your TV John! It’s mostly rubbish anyway. The very few watchable shows that aren’t on the ABC or SBS can be downloaded for free via the internet. The only ads I ever see are on “The Gruen Transfer.”

  5. August 9th, 2010 at 18:39 | #5

    Of course, the ads aren’t aimed at me

    Of course they aren’t. Nor are the ALP ads. They are both aimed at a very small tranche of the population who could contemplate voting for either of the two majors and who live in marginal seats. In order to qualify, you must be able to process nothing more than vacuous slogans, have a short attention span and want someone whose armpits might smell the same as yours when you are in the pub or in a lift.

    Of course, that is substantially true of advertising in general. Hardly any advertisements on TV are pitched at those who made it into tertiary education or don’t identify with some brand of something.

    There was an interesting article at The Drum that approaches this question at a tangent by Jeff Sparrow.

    Manufacturing political reality

    The reality is that boss class politics is not about the active engagement of anyone. That would be a damned nuisance. It is simply an exercise in reconciling disputes within the boss class over resource allocation which all factions agree will be settled by the farcical exercise we see played out every three years or so. From their own POV, it probably makes sense as the least costly way to get on with business.

  6. TerjeP
    August 9th, 2010 at 18:47 | #6

    So John if not last and not second last where will you be putting the Liberal Democrats (LDP). We’d be happy to have your primary vote. 😉

  7. Tony Abbott for PM
    August 9th, 2010 at 19:49 | #7

    Who are the liberal democrats and what do they stand for?

  8. TerjeP
    August 9th, 2010 at 20:05 | #8

    Tony for PM – Candidate profiles and other info here:-


  9. Jim Rose
    August 9th, 2010 at 20:33 | #9

    Everyone on a losing steak blames the media and shrill advertising for their inability of their views to resonant with an electorate that, in this case, just three short years ago was able to see past the deception and fluff of the capitalists and elect Rudd by a good margin.

    What has Abbott done is the last 8 months to recast the magic spell of deception over half of the electorate. The Liberals were in a hopeless position when he became leader 8 short months ago.

    The phoniness and betrayals of Rudd had nothing to do with the decline of labour? don’t governments lose elections, rather the oppositions win them?

    Gillard admitting to be a phoney and that you will see the real Julia as an election special is not another reason why labour is on the nose. Phoneys and careerists all!

    A PM so desperate and fragile under pressure that she challenges the opposition leader to more debates to bask in his reflected glory! The opposition leader is supposed to be the supplicant trying to get debates with the sitting PM, not the other way around. They are only neck-and-neck in the polls! Why the crack-up?

    Abbot in the past was denounced as a transparently ignorant and incompetent social conservative unfit for office, as was plain to see.

    Now there is a secret Tony Abbott lurking behind the dumb smile. Someone who was previously denounced as a dummy was in fact smart enough to play a dummy.

    Abbott has been dumb enough to be consistent. what you see is what you get is a powerful political brand and what people thought they were voting for when they voted for Rudd. plainly, they got it wrong with Rudd.

    If anyone was trying to pull a fast one, it is a labour party.

    Electing a new leader and rushing to the polls in the hope that the honey moon period would not wear off before the Real Julia Gillard was uncovered.

  10. Chris W
    August 9th, 2010 at 20:50 | #10

    Yep … ‘Stop the boats’ and ‘Great big new tax’ etc have pushed me pretty close to the edge. The cherry on the cake though is the miner’s abomination – ‘You’re gonna get whacked’. If I freakin’ hear that one more stinking time I swear I’ll bite down hard on the cyanide tooth and end it all.

  11. TerjeP
    August 9th, 2010 at 21:42 | #11

    Is that a promise?

  12. Alice
    August 9th, 2010 at 22:11 | #12

    Its sad we have to endure these hideous advertising campaigns every election now (since JH’s blitz on the interest rate election). I dont recall being so bombarded before…were we? I hate to think we are all paying for this (so this is what is has come down to) … worthy of the Romans in decline.

    May both bestiarii lose and the animals live.

  13. Peter Evans
    August 9th, 2010 at 23:46 | #13

    I haven’t seen or heard one election ad. (Except for Fran Kelly spruiking Liberal Party talking points on ABC RN.)

    Avert your eyes and ears!

  14. Austin
    August 10th, 2010 at 08:38 | #14

    “I just have to hope that the average Australian is not the bigoted fool the Liberal campaign supposes.”

    Hope is all we have. The evidence seems to suggest otherwise.

  15. Paul Norton
    August 10th, 2010 at 09:14 | #15

    TerjeP, I’m mortified. Birdy isn’t running on your ticket this time around.

  16. August 10th, 2010 at 10:29 | #16

    Pr Q wearily goes through the motions:

    I can say that the Liberal Party’s TV ads have been effective in ensuring that Liberal candidates will receive my coveted last preference. Of course, the ads aren’t aimed at me, so I just have to hope that the average Australian is not the bigoted fool the Liberal campaign supposes.

    Lets all agree that the Liberal Party’s “stop the boats” TV ads are offensive. (Although this dated one about Kevin O’Lemon is very good).

    They certainly put me off and I have a stronger stomach for this sort of thing than Pr Q, with his notoriously delicate political sensibilities. Although I understand that a day not spent hurling abuse at Liberal Party campaign tacticians and generally Mau-Mauing nationalists is considered a day wasted around these parts.

    The fact is that boat-borne people-smuggling leads to boat-foundering people-drowning. I made this prediction regularly during the middle-noughties and that prediction was confirmed in the late-noughties, after Evans liberalised border-protection. This is one confirmed prediction about which I would rather not exercise my bragging rights.

    So does Pr Q have an constructive suggestions about how he can reconcile his well-intended desire for more liberal border-protection with the heightened risk of mass-drowning amongst boat-people? I mean apart from building a four-lane super-highway from Broome to Kabul?

    Just askin’.

  17. wilful
    August 10th, 2010 at 11:04 | #17

    So, Jack Strocchi, the ALP while in Government have been directly responsible for an increase in asylum seeker boats? How has this happened?

  18. Fran Barlow
    August 10th, 2010 at 11:04 | #18

    @Jack Strocchi

    I won’t speak for PrQ but it would be a fairly simple matter for the Australian government in concert with the UNHCR to set up regional offices in places like Indonesia and expedite processing. It’s the delay that is driving the problems. Once people had passed humanitrain criteria, the Australian government/UNHCR could act as their placement agents in accepting countries according to a formula.

    We could actually use proper ocean going ferries (or even fly them in here/elsewhere if that were cheaper or morer practicable).

    I see no reason not to have a large number of them them wait out final settlement here, in supportive communities. Also feasible would be their transfer to stable developing countries that had good human rights records and which were aggreeable/culturally similar. We could fund their placement on a formula which allowed the host community to also benefit from the new arrivals. In many cases we could seek support for these programs from other signatories to the convention.

    At the moment however, Australia is taking in just 13,500 or so people on a humanitarian basis and we could clearly take a lot more, especially if we trimmed skilled migration and trained these people instead. It might just be too that if they acquired skills that they might be easy to settle elsewhere.

    There are lots of humanitarian options.

  19. Jim Rose
    August 10th, 2010 at 11:47 | #19

    @Fran Barlow
    a simple matter!!??

    Last time I looked, Indonesia was not yet an australian colony or vassel state. Gillard’s attempt to annex east timor as a refugee processing area failed for the same reason.

    the green’s last year called on Indonesia to sign the United Nations refugee convention.

  20. Fran Barlow
    August 10th, 2010 at 11:53 | #20

    @Jim Rose

    Last time I looked, Indonesia was not yet an australian colony or vassel state.

    Relevance? The people are there. We would be offering to expedite them moving on. We might perhaps pay them a fee for operating an office, if we couldn’t talk them into being good international citizens.

    So yes … a simple matter, though one requiring some political vision.

  21. Fran Barlow
    August 10th, 2010 at 11:54 | #21

    NB: [vassal state]

  22. Jim Rose
    August 10th, 2010 at 12:33 | #22

    @Fran Barlow

    What domestic political advantage would there be to the Indonesian political elites to hosting a refugee processing centre be?

    Racial politics is big in the Indonesia electorate – both anti-Chinese and anti-foreigner. The East Timor civil war was a sideshow to a power struggle and used to undermine one side or another in the presidential succession battle in Jakarta. Indonesian politics illustrates well why the worst get to the top.

  23. Fran Barlow
    August 10th, 2010 at 12:41 | #23

    @Jim Rose

    What domestic political advantage would there be to the Indonesian political elites to hosting a refugee processing centre be?

    They are hosting one de facto anyway, and it is serving to corrupt their police and customs people. It has been there for years. Were the Australians to cut a deal, they could shrink the size of it and take on some of the direct management. They could probably have an ancillary joint task force to nail the cops that were on the take, which the Indonesians would probably like all on their own.

  24. Neil
    August 10th, 2010 at 13:42 | #24

    I think the coalition’s ads in the Fairfax press are reasonably effective. You know, the ones written and authorized by Michelle Grattan.

  25. paul walter
    August 10th, 2010 at 14:12 | #25

    Fran Barlow’s comment seems fair to me. the”manufactured reality” is also a theme taken up in Gary Sauer thompson’s “Public Opinion” site.
    Further up the column we see folk trying to fob off Abbott’s crassness as frankness, but the public know he has “form” bigtime and long term. as the prof more or lest said inthelead in, you cant make a silk purse out of a sows ear.
    Strocchi, Jim Rose, congrats on your this time successful attempt to derail or divert the thread away from the topic.
    Jack, the simple fact is, if the US stopped its incessant, system-feeding wars against little countries, there wouldn’t be a “refugee problem” in the first place..

  26. TerjeP
    August 10th, 2010 at 14:41 | #26

    Paul – yes a little less excitement in this campaign. Maybe next time.

  27. Chris W
    August 10th, 2010 at 20:27 | #27

    Nah, sorry Terje, not a promise. In the cold light of day I think I’ll survive … having reached my personal political Nirvana when the “unflushable turd” (thanks MM) lost Bennelong, even Budgie Boy becoming PM will be bearable.

  28. Jill Rush
    August 10th, 2010 at 22:25 | #28

    The Liberal Party ads are not effective because they are dull, negative and repetitive and add up to nothing when viewed a few times. The problem of all parties are that there are large groups of people who don’t watch TV or are watching a range of channels that have only become available in the last three years. These same people are not reading newspapers either. There is a range of information being shared outside official channels.

    The Liberal ads are cringeworthy and show us what a divided, backward nation we would become under Tony Abbott’s leadership.

  29. August 10th, 2010 at 23:12 | #29

    This one, OTOH, is one for us late baby boomers …

  30. Jim Rose
    August 10th, 2010 at 23:13 | #30

    @Jill Rush
    if the “The Liberal Party ads are not effective because they are dull, negative and repetitive and add up to nothing when viewed a few times” why is abbot neck-and-neck in the polls?

    if the Liberal Party ads were not dull, not negative and not repetitive, what would Abbott’s margin be?

  31. Jill Rush
    August 11th, 2010 at 09:21 | #31

    The problem for Abbott Jim Rose #30 is that he is dull, negative and repetitive so your hypothetical is not worth too much time. Watching him on the 7.30 Report last night showed him as a parrot who has not thought through any policy and that he has not got any policies apart from the 6 point non contract which is an insult to the voters of Australia.

  32. Jim Rose
    August 11th, 2010 at 10:01 | #32

    @Jill Rush
    voters did not like Rudd insulating them by revealing himself to be a phoney. that is why Rudd is an ex-PM.

    what is abbott’s secret? he can insult the voters and still put himself in the position of perhaps defeating a first-term government for the first time since 1931.

  33. Alice
    August 11th, 2010 at 10:30 | #33

    @Fran Barlow
    LOL Fran – thats a good one!

  34. Donald Oats
    August 11th, 2010 at 11:13 | #34

    What about the pink bats home insulation? There is a case where Labor fell down on effective advertising. While the Liberals were running around pinning the blame for deaths and house fires onto the Labor party, all Labor could offer in defence was that it would inspect the insulation jobs after the fact. And yet, the responsibility for the training, monitoring and inspection of the insulation and previous wiring/insulation is with the business doing the job, not with some public servant somewhere. Remember the 4-Corners program where a small business owner admitted that he didn’t train his employees, because “I was greedy”, to use his words? He quite rightly has faced criminal charges, unlike his previous employees, that merely lost their lives.
    How come the PR machine of Labor failed to build effective advertising of a) who was responsible for employee and client safety; and b) house fires due to inappropriate and/or dangerous insulation installation is the responsibility of the insulating business to avoid in the first place, and an inspection – by a trained inspector, whether staff or contracted out -of the house prior to insulation is the obvious necessary step to reducing the risks.

    Perhaps the fatalities scared Labor off from a spirited defence of their insulation program, instead of caving in and doing inspections that the insulating businesses should have done themselves; both pre- and post- installation inspections. If a business couldn’t afford to due the job safely, then why the Heck were they in the insulation business in the first place? It is the business’s choice as to what jobs they undertook.

  35. Jim Rose
    August 11th, 2010 at 11:47 | #35

    The left is condemned to long periods in opposition because it is unable to win on any basis other than default. Its inability to counter negative advertising is part of a wider malaise.

    The ALP never wins office on the basis of its ideas.

    The Liberals have been in power for so long that it was a case of cutting down a dead carcass long flapping in the wind:
    • Whitlam just defeated a government of 23 years vintage
    • The drover’s dog defeated a tired 8 year old government of Fraser
    • Rudd defeated Howard’s government of 11 years vintage because Howard, through a fluke, did not have a senate to temper his excesses.
    The progressive left needs to develop an ability to resonate with the electorate. Class war rhetoric and stirring up envy for the rich no longer cuts it.

  36. wilful
    August 11th, 2010 at 12:22 | #36

    What, so you’re telling me that John Howard won in ’96 because we recognised his strong vision for the country? Or that Mal Fraser won on his own merits?

  37. Alice
    August 11th, 2010 at 13:06 | #37

    @Jim Rose
    JR – if this country votes for a parrott like Abbott then we must be living in a flock of galahs. I would wait for the election JR if I was you.

  38. Jim Rose
    August 11th, 2010 at 13:40 | #38

    governments do lose office, but the opposition party must at least look presentable. an exception would be NSW in 2011, which is a drover’s dog election

    Abbott, to the surpise of all, has been the most effective opposition leader for decades. He has brought down one PM, and has another well in his sights for election day.

    It took 2 elections to see off a government as incompetent as whitlam’s.

    all abbott has had to do is remind the voters that labour are incompetent and shifty managers.

  39. Alice
    August 11th, 2010 at 14:14 | #39

    @Jim Rose
    You forget about workchoices Jim Rose. You forget what it did to the liberals. Never was there a policy so unpoular. There such a backlash that Howard lost his own seat – unheard of since the 1920s with someone just as unpopular.

    You really think the Australian people would trust your lot again?

    I wouldnt place a bet on it.

  40. Jim Rose
    August 11th, 2010 at 14:34 | #40

    as noted in #35, “Rudd defeated Howard’s government of 11 years vintage because Howard, through a fluke, did not have a senate to temper his excesses.”

    PM’s do not usually hold marginal seats.

    as for “You really think the Australian people would trust your lot again” the polls suggest that forgiveness runs deep in the electorate if you are not a phoney.

    raging against the willingness of the electorate to swing to the other side will do nothing to stop that.

    develop plans of action to win the votes back is the way to go. the ALP’s bread and circus is not enough to fool the electorate this time.

  41. Fran Barlow
    August 11th, 2010 at 15:03 | #41

    @Jim Rose

    governments do lose office, but the opposition party must at least look presentable. an exception would be NSW in 2011, which is a drover’s dog election

    No … they still have to look electable, although the ALP has set a pretty low benchmark. Right now the Libs’ slogan could be because we’re not NSW Labor — which is rather sad considering that really, the Libs are just NSW Labor out of power.

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