We’ve been watching it for the last few weeks because we have teenage kids, and it’s a valuable insight into that hyperconsumerist marketing showbiz for them. On the whole we like it, but mainly because it fosters conversations with them about advertising. For us olds, it doesn’t really tell us much we didn’t already know, and despite the occasionally amusing one-liners? – well, goodmeatballsandgravy they’re a smug bunch of bastards.
Tonight the weekly Challenge for some of the nation’s “top” advertisers was to rebrand the Australian Democrats, given that after the last Federal election the party currently has almost nil national influence.
The second offering won the slot, with an ad concentrating on the original Don Chipp tagline, “Keeping the Bastards Honest”. It showed a montage of historical Prime Ministers, with various descriptions of their bastardry (Paul Keating as “the bastard we had to have” was sheer genius) and ending with a picture of Kevin Rudd, tagged “Bastard”. Beat. “(Probably)”.
I liked it a lot. It certainly made me smile, and think fondly of the past glories of the Australian Democrats.
Now to the salient point. Why have I led with a description of the second ad? Because the first ad was flabby, indulgent, lazy tripe, and the so-called peer-reviewers from this allegedly cut-throat advertising industry didn’t call it on being so. They all said they loved it, when it was unadulterated rubbish even if it hadn’t been plagiarising a recent campaign for another party.
That first ad’s tagline was was “Third Party Insurance”, although it took them a very long and confusing 45 seconds to get there. (Honestly, what the hell was happening until they got to the tagline?) The tagline itself would have been OK, except that “Third Party Insurance” was the tagline for the Australian Greens in the Federal election held only six months ago. Did nobody in this advertising agency, about to present something on national television, do their homework?
Or is it that they feel that nobody will remember the Greens campaign tagline, and therefore it’s up for grabs? In that case, if public recognition of this motto from only six months ago is so low, their behaviour (unethical as it might be) is a valuable lesson for the Greens, pointing to a failure in the Greens’ campaign strategy at the last election if their major soundbite is so little remembered as being associated with them.
Whatever the story, either sheer laziness or opportunistic chutzpah grabbing at some flotsam in the post-election tides, the show lost the chance to make a strong point about the impermanency of branding campaigns. It would be a much better show if it didn’t pander to the egos of the guest marketeers quite so much.