For most of my working life I worked in marketing and advertising
so I know how people are influenced, persuaded or swayed by such things
as branding and repetitive advertising or recurring bullshit.
Companies spend millions of dollars to subtly brainwash you. To align
you with a certain brand or product. They will use all manner of
persuasive techniques including sex and deceptive packaging to solicit
your good will and loyalty. They even measure the eye blink rate of
women from hidden cameras in supermarkets to test color reaction. Yes
it’s that sophisticated. And brand loyalty is what they want. There are
more psychologists employed in advertising in America than in the health
industry. It is all calculated to take power over your decision-making.
Likewise, political parties want your loyalty, or at least they want
to convince you that they are working in your best interests. They use
the same repetitive techniques.
If you tell a lie often enough people will believe you. Asylum seekers are “illegal” and “she told a lie”, are but two examples.
The Abbott Government has taken persuasion to another level employing
37 communication and social media specialists to monitor social media
and offer strategic communications advice costing taxpayers almost $4.3
million a year. In addition Scott Morrison’s departments employ more
than 95 communications staff and spin doctors, costing at least
$8million a year. In Morrison’s case it’s about protecting a slogan.
That’s a lot of people to sell the brand, spin lies, omissions,
monitoring social media and telling deliberate falsities. It’s about
creating or promoting perceptions (rather than realities) about your
political brand as opposed to that of your competitor. There are a
number of ingredients in “successful” political
branding. The product needs a positive image, and a leader with
character who is surrounded by positive motivated people. A fair dose of
charisma is helpful but not entirely essential. What is essential is a
well thought out narrative that the electorate can relate too and
policies that are explainable. Even if they involve some pain. It
doesn’t require popularism so long as it has credibility. John Howard
was never popular but he had the perception of creditability.
Unfortunately the Abbott government and its ministers are nothing
more than a compliment to mediocrity and intellectual barrenness. The
brand has its genesis in contemptuous negativity and has failed to apply
a label to any policy.
Its front bench is full of colorless dour depressive uninspiring
type’s intent on implementing a budget representative of their
collective pessimism and unfairness. The collective personalities of
Abbott, (a self-confessed and proven liar and a PM for undoing) Pyne,
(Arguably the most hated politician in Australia.) Brandis, (An Attorney
General who believes bigotry is fine) Abetz, (Needs a personality
transplant) Hockey, (A serial blamer of everyone else) Joyce,
(Potentially our next deputy PM. OMG.)Dutton, (Cannot shake of his
copper image) Hunt, (No credibility on Climate Change after writing a
thesis supporting a tax.)Morrison (The un Christian Christian. Don’t say
I said that. It’s a secret.) Robb (Still wanting Joes Job) Truss (soon
to retire) and Cormann (Can’t throw off the accent) reads like a list of
appointments from a Psychiatrist who specialises in personality
In terms of image they all come across as, indignant angry men with
chips on their shoulders. Make that logs. Haters of science and
progressive policies. And some like Bernardi downright extreme.
In Abbott’s case you have to wonder if Australia has ever elected a
Prime Minister so ignorant of technology, the environment and science.
So oblivious of the needs of women and so out of touch with a modern
In the latest Fairfax polling
the Labor Party leads the LNP by 8 percentage points. More alarming
though is the Prime Ministers popularity. Or more accurately his lack of
it. And Mr Abbott’s trustworthiness stands at a record low 35 per cent
Of course they have two women but one could endlessly debate who
comes across as the bitchiest. At least they have two female ornaments
if nothing else. The best public relations company in Australia couldn’t
do much with the individual images of that lot.
“Australian political history is filled with the incompetence of unexceptional conservative men with born to rule mentalities.”
It’s hard to promote a political brand that blames everyone else,
lies continuously, won’t listen to advice, is secretive, won’t
compromise and is full of its own self-importance. Never in Australian
political history has a budget been so motivated by ideology. The result
has been a public backlash of monumental proportion which is reflected
in the polls. So blind is Abbott to his own shortcomings as a leader
that he cannot see how badly he and his cabinet are governing.
Despite ongoing support from the right wing media, Murdoch publications
and the shock jocks who have been intent on selling brand Tony, nothing
is working for them. Social Media is leading the criticism. With the
young in particular seeming to hate the Abbott brand with a vengeance.
Former Conservative UK Environment Minister Lord Deben had this to say.
“I think the Australian Government must be one of the
most ignorant governments I’ve ever seen in the sense, right across the
board, on immigration or about anything else, they’re totality unwilling
to listen to science or logic”.
From an advertising agencies
point of view you would have to sell an awful lot of bullshit to bring
the Abbott brand up to scratch and at the same time risk your
reputation. But for the right price I’m sure one would have a go.