How Clive grew: Palmer’s election advertising strategy

The big man from Queensland has certainly grown his brand in the lead-up to Saturday's federal election, and Edge's Nicole Gardner says it's all thanks to Byron Sharp.

There’s nothing like a hotly contested federal election to boost ad sales. No matter where we’ve sourced our news in the past month, from TV to newspaper, digital to radio, we’ve been slammed with political advertising, content, messages and yes, even video games.

How brands grow: The Clive Palmer edition

Leading this trend is Clive Palmer’s United Australia Party. By 12am Thursday, it is anticipated that Clive has invested close to $60m to get his message out there and that’s just the ATL ballpark.

Looking at Clive’s communications strategy, it would seem he has wholeheartedly bought into the philosophy of How Brands Grow, the seminal book by Byron Sharp. Sharp’s fundamental tenet is based on the concept of physical and mental availability, and consumers’ capacity to absorb a brand’s message. It seems that Clive has taken notes.

Physically he’s omnipotent. Like a Tesla in Ludicrous mode, he’s come from nowhere to blow us all away. The United Australia Party is contesting all 151 lower house seats and running for the Senate in the upcoming election.

Mentally, it’s like the yell and sell of the early 90s ‘Doors Doors Doors’ or ‘Rugs Rugs Rugs’ making it impossible to ignore – unlike all the leaflet-giving supporters that have been hounding us at the bus-stops recently.

But Clive’s approach goes even deeper into adhering to the seven principles we’ve learnt from Sharp.

1. Continuously reach all buyers of the category
Clive will never be mistaken as the strong silent type. The UAP advertising materials are loud and proud and everywhere all the time. If there’s a single voter who hasn’t been swamped by Clive and Co’s communications, please stand up.

And just to make sure he doesn’t miss the millennials, Clive even got the jump on his political rivals with the launch of a world-first mobile game app. Collect Tim Tams with Clive as he clashes with the Canberra elite in the light-hearted, retro-style arcade game featuring the likes of Scott Morrison, Bill Shorten, Richard Di Natale and many more.

2. Make it easy to buy
While all the other parties are bombarding Aussie voters with advertising messages, they do so without the same ruthless consistency as the UAP. With Clive there is no grey. It’s all black and white. Or black and yellow to be more precise. Repeated again and again, he’s managed to simplify his message so it’s (potentially) easy to buy.

3. Get noticed
Clive’s no-BS, fast-talking approach hits you like a slap in the face. The communication is bold, short and sharp. There’s a liberal (pardon the pun) use of exaggeration and hyperbole to stop us in our tracks.

One of Clive’s distinctive defaced billboards

4. Build memory structures
On this one, Clive has taken a slightly more unorthodox approach of building on Trump’s memory structures. The similarities between ‘Make America Great Again’ and Clive’s ‘Make Australia Great’ are obvious. Nowhere in the brand bible does it say borrowed interest isn’t a valid way to build your brand and short-cut the path from your message to the consumer’s memory.

5. Use distinctive assets
This is where Clive has been particularly clever. Despite the fact the Palmer United Party disintegrated when the last sitting member failed to retain their seat in the 2016 election, the party continues to leverage the distinctive party yellow across all channels.

Added to that we’d be remiss not to also call out Clive himself as distinctive. (Whether or not he’s an asset we’ll know by Sunday).

6. Be consistent
Drifting off message is not a concern in Clive’s camp. This is a campaign built on repetition and a singular focus of putting Australians first to Make Australia Great.

Black and yellow, black and yellow, black and yellow

7. Stay competitive
The UAP claims to offer Australians a host of real or imagined solutions to economic management, taxes, housing, employment, and even climate change. His relentless take-no-prisoners approach is consistently competitive.

Whatever the result on Saturday and the success of Clive and the UAP, Byron Sharp should be proud. The big man from Queensland has certainly grown his brand.

Nicole Gardner, executive director of account management, Edge 


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