The creative verdict on this week’s election ads: Memorable, scary and boring

Andy Flemming scereengrabEach week of the election season we invite creative thinkers to give us their verdict on some of the advertising creative from the campaign. This week, M&C Saatchi’s creative director Andy Flemming critiques some of the latest efforts on the campaign trail. 

I’ve been asked to critique some particularly long and deeply boring election commercials. Full disclosure, I don’t like either of the candidates and find how over the last few weeks they’ve been obviously told to start waving their arms around as if they’re at some odd parliamentary rave. Well, here we go.

The Australian Labor Party, ‘You Lose’

(Ad courtesy of Ebiquity) 

Of all the ads in this, lets be honest, woeful collection, the line ‘If he wins, you lose’ strikes me as the most powerful line. It’s memorable and scary, but the ALP probably should have started with this instead of throwing it out when the polls started looking dicey. It might have caught on, and could have started to make the swinging voters doubt the opposition. Too little too late I’m afraid.

The Australian Labor Party, ‘Mr Abbott’s Priorities Are Wrong’

(Ad courtesy of Ebiquity) 

I’m not going to even pretend to get into how figures are being massaged by both parties, but this is the type of ad all Australian parties love. Sad faced Australian complaining about how a policy is just plain unfair. Seeing as we’ve all been completely kept in the dark about these figures, what they mean and how it affects us (Jesus, as of today the Liberals haven’t even released theirs,) the ad just makes me feel that something’s wrong but I don’t have enough information as to work out exactly why.

Liberal Party, ‘Joe Hockey – Restoring The Nation’s Finance’
(Ad courtesy of Ebiquity) 

This one starts with the kind of voiceover that I’d use for a slasher movie, so it does start on a rather scary note. And there’s Joe Hockey on Green Screen waving his arms around (they’re all doing it.) Joe spends over a minute talking about debt, figures, billions of dollars wasted, whatever. I was bored in the first ten seconds. I mean, come on lads, this is like a particularly dull economics lecture. And there’s the problem. Where’s the idea? There was a famous poster of Tony Blair with devil’s eyes in the UK election. People remembered this. Will they talk about this one in the pub? Nope. It’s just a politician talking numbers. And I turned off after about thirty seconds and I’m supposed to be reviewing the damn thing.

Liberal Party, ‘Joe Hockey – Better Budget Management’

(Ad courtesy of Ebiquity) 

Ooh hello, the evil voiceover’s gone and Joe Hockey’s back, but this time there’s uplifting library music in the background as someone’s obviously come to the same conclusion that I did. Does it improve the ad? Well, he looks uncomfortable being all ‘upbeat,’ And I see that ‘That’s our pledge’ is starting to slip in as some kind of campaign thought. It’s not as good as ‘If he wins, you lose’ but at least they’re trying. More numbers. More promises. Advertising’s about saying one thing and saying it well. This is one man saying thirty things and saying it with a forced smile.

Liberal Party, ‘Captain Chaos’

(Ad courtesy of Ebiquity) 

This is just like those attack ads we saw on ‘The Daily Show’ during the US election. Scary music. And lines like ‘It’s a ruddy mess.’ At least that line’s got a ring to it; they should have used this one weeks ago. Oh, and 4000 boat people don’t constitute a ‘flood’ – maybe a trickle.

Liberal Party, ‘A Stronger Australia – United Team’

(Ad courtesy of Ebiquity) 

I’m really, really bored now. Another green screen and the scary voiceover’s back. Apparently Julia Bishop’s ‘very proud of Tony Abbot.’ She goes on about a ‘united team’ and the fact that Tony starting ‘The Green Corps.’ Is it interesting? No, it’s just a politician going through bullet points. And this is the problem. They genuinely think people are taking it all in, and they’re not. This is an ad written by a committee. It might as well be a corporate training film. It’s that bad.

Liberal Party, ‘A Stronger Australia’

(Ad courtesy of Ebiquity) 

And here’s Tony himself rattling off another long, long list of policies. Dull. Repetitive. Nothing to remember other than that ‘pledge’ thing they’ve started. Another corporate video. Thank God it’s over.

In conclusion. Some truly awful, awful advertising. I’m no better informed as both parties seem to want to use masses of figures, job losses, illegals and pledges to convince us that they’re ace. They should have looked back at the classic election ads of the past. ‘Labour isn’t working’ is one of the most famous. I can’t help thinking that some simple, clear messaging and maybe, just maybe if Labor’s ‘If he wins, you lose’ started appearing on posters everywhere at the very start of this campaign it might have swung a load of voters Labor’s way. But hey ho. Looks like the Liberals are going to landslide this one, so we’ve got their 25mbs NBN download speeds to look forward to. But there IS a bright side. We won’t see any more of this crap on telly.

Andy Flemming is the creative director of M&C Saatchi.


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