The Hard Sell – what would Dee Madigan do with Jack Lyons?

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I was distracted during my lunchbreak today by the latest political scandal to hit the front pages. This one was the story of the now disendorsed Liberal candidate Jack Lyons from Bendigo.

The full story is here: http://www.heraldsun.com.au/news/victoria/bendigo-west-liberal-candidate-jack-lyons-quits-over-racist-sexist-offensive-jibes-including-bendigo-needing-an-enema/story-fni0fit3-1227013304657?nk=593763a54a2161a51d10420f90cc4ff0

It’s a real shocker.

Sometimes in politics leaders have to make tough, difficult decisions and this is one where you have to give the Victorian Liberals some credit… but also ask why it took so long? Why didn’t anyone ring an alarm bell earlier, or was it rung and ignored until the cost in advertising and marketing the deteriorating Liberal brand in Victoria become too high?

Maybe the answer lies in one of the latest books on political advertising and marketing (currently on my ridiculously long ‘to-read’ list) https://www.mup.com.au/items/144842 ?

hard sell dee madigan

It’s worth following the link just to see Dee Madigan’s amusing promotional trailer. http://youtu.be/nOfvD7MpAC0

In case you don’t subscribe to the Australian. Today there’s a short review and interview about Dee’s new book by Troy Bramston (which can be found and read via Google): http://www.theaustralian.com.au/national-affairs/labor-cant-blame-media-for-2013-election-loss/story-fn59niix-1227013342421

“LABOR’S election advertising strategist, Dee Madigan, says the party cannot blame the media for its defeat last year given its own communication failures and reveals she opposed a push from Kevin Rudd’s inner circle to target News Corp Australia over allegations of media bias.

“Certain forces within the PM’s office tried to push this as part of the (campaign) narrative,” Ms Madigan writes in The Hard Sell : The Tricks of Political Advertising.

“Media bias is just not something that resonated with the swinging voters.”

Ms Madigan’s book, to be launched today by former Queensland Labor premier Anna Bligh, exposes other divisions over campaign strategy, including the “A New Way” slogan and Kevin Rudd’s micromanagement of campaign operations.

While criticising The Daily Telegraph’s election coverage, Ms Madigan reveals the issue of media bias did not rate as an issue with voters in the party’s focus groups.

“I remember one focus group at which the facilitator tried over and over to see if there was any interest in media bias,” Ms Madigan writes. “One fellow finally piped up and said, ‘Well I do think the media in this country is biased … Collingwood always gets a bad rap’.”

Ms Madigan describes Labor’s “A New Way” slogan as “a terrible idea” and says it was imposed on the campaign by Mr Rudd, who “wanted it”.

“While ‘A New Way’ was a decent strategy for Rudd’s comeback, it should never have been the strapline of the positive ads,” Ms Madigan writes. “Because unless we were planning on staying totally positive … the entire press would rightly call us hypocrites.”

When asked if the slogan “A New Way” would appear with ads Ms Madigan was shooting, her response was blunt: “Only if we want every single f..king person to laugh at us.”

Mr Rudd’s strategist, Bruce Hawker, wrote in his campaign diary that the slogan was recommended by advertising leader Neil Lawrence, that it tested well, and it was agreed to at meetings attended by Ms Madigan.

The Hard Sell (MUP) examines advertising, particularly political advertising, in Australia. It couples extensive academic research with the author’s experience in corporate, community and political communications.

Ms Madigan says Labor stopped referring to “Gonski” as a label for its school reforms as “it had no emotional pull for parents” unlike the term “education ­funding”.

Although Ms Madigan strongly defends Labor’s economic management she says the party failed to communicate this effectively.

“We never did manage to sell the economy. As tempting as it would be to put all the blame at the feet of a largely unfriendly press, the reality was that much of the problem lay with Labor’s failure to sell its handling of the global ­financial crisis.”

Updated 14/08/14 – Dee Madigan and Stephen Mills both appeared with Rob Sitch on ABC Melbourne to discuss the “tricks of political advertising and campaigning” (their words not mine!) listen here:

The tricks of political advertising and campaigning – ABC Melbourne – Australian Broadcasting Corporation.

Highlights of the podcast include:

Jon Faine’s co-host is director, producer, screenwriter, actor and comedian, Rob Sitch whose latest ABC TV series Utopia, premiered last night at 8:30pm.

Their first guest is creative director, author and political commentator, Dee Madigan. Her book is called The Hard Sell: The tricks of political advertising.

“Negative ads work and the reason they work is because they hone in on the people who are disengaged,” she says.

“Disengaged voters are far more likely to vote against a party than for them.”

Then they are joined by Dr Stephen Mills, former speechwriter to Prime Minister Bob Hawke and political journalist, who now lectures at the Graduate School of Government at the University of Sydney.

When asked about the campaign directors that he interviewed for his latest book, The Professionals: Strategy, Money and the Rise of the Political Campaigner in Australia, he says, “They’re intelligent, they’re focused, they are loyal party servants and they are doing their job which is to win the election.

“I think the real reason Rudd lost from a campaign point-of-view, is that he had no discipline in his campaign strategy.”

and no discussion about political advertising would be complete without the inclusion of this explanatory dissection of negative Liberal TV ads from 2007:

 

 

2 thoughts on “The Hard Sell – what would Dee Madigan do with Jack Lyons?

    […] already written a short post about Dee Madigan’s recently published book on politics and communications. Now I’ve also come across a great video of her at a recent […]

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    December 11, 2014 at 10:43 pm

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