January 27, 2004

Dumb and dumber…oink!

Stevenson.bmp Yesterday I said html “The ‘Re-Pete’ ads are just plain dumb.” But this (gif 35 Kb) is even dumber. This looks like what is called in the trade a “quick and dirty” flyer. It’s designed on the fly in black and white so it can be photocopied (often in a parliamentarian’s office, though I’m not alleging that in this case) and distributed by volunteers.

It’s an effective but defective piece, by which I mean, in another election context it might work. In fact it may even work in the local context, depending on voters’ views of Ray Stevens, the Liberal candidate. (According to a poll in the Gold Coast Bulletin today Stevens is only pulling a 32% first preference vote, so he may be vulnerable to a personal attack). But in a statewide context where the Premier has played for the sympathy vote on the back of a personal attack ad from the Coalition, it doesn’t work.

ABC News Online headlines the story as “Beattie orders campaign out of the gutter”. Good stirring stuff, except will anyone believe that Beattie had nothing to do with it?

One of the Coalition’s ads attacks Beattie because of his frequent use of the word “sorry”. This attack only bites if voters believe that Beattie is insincere. In this case it’s hard to believe he is anything else. After the Shepherdson Inquiry Beattie could credibly attack the wrong-doers because they acted on their own without central authorization. Milner is right at the apex, Beattie is at least constructively responsible. Voters will easily believe that this time the only reason Beattie is sorry is because he was caught out.

The ALP could easily have justified this flyer, but for the pig caricature. All the rest is factual, consisting mostly of clips from newspapers and a few bolded phrases. It claims that Stevens favoured an 80% pay rise while he “says the figure was closer to 15 per cent”. One of the news clippings refers to the councilors trimming the rise to 50%, so I’m not sure about Stevens' claim. This argument doesn’t take Stevens far anyway – pay rises to pollies are never popular, and in arguing for them he is right off message. Even the pig is not that objectionable, but most voters statewide won’t see it, they will only hear its oink.

Talking about message, have another look at the flyer. All good marketing literature should have a clear call to action, but this one is lacking one. Sure it implies that you shouldn't vote for Stevens, but a really effective piece would have come out and said it.

The Coalition response also fails the message test. Liberal Leader Quinn is quoted as saying that "This is the bottom of the gutter, you cannot get any lower." I haven't seen his press release, but I would have thought the message should have been "This is what Peter Beattie and Labor are all about - do one thing and say another. The only way Queenslanders in Gaven can tell him this isn't good enough is to vote for Ray Stevens."

It's an odd campaign. Neither side seems to want to criticise the other, and as a result, they don't have their lines straight.

Posted by Graham at January 27, 2004 05:26 PM
Comments

WHY THE BLAZES DOESN'T PETER (REPETE) BEATTIE TELL THE TRUTH ABOUT THE HOUSING TAX HE IS GOING TO PUT ON THE PEOPLE OF QUEENSLAND IF/AFTER HE GETS IN ON SATURDAY? THE PEOPLE OF QUEENSLAND DESERVE THE GOVERNMENT THEY GET AND WHEN THE TAX GOES ON, THEY WILL HAVE NO ONE TO BLAME BUT THEMSELVES.
MY ONLY COMFORTING THOUGHT IS "IF PETER BEATTIE EVER GETS TO HEAVEN NO DOUBT HE WILL GO THE "FAR QUEUE".

Posted by: Gordy at February 5, 2004 07:59 PM
Writers
Graham Young
John Black
Mark Bahnisch
Michael Lee
Resources