‘We knew the job we had to do on Morrison’: Dee Madigan on Labor’s campaign

Speaking on this week’s Mumbrellacast, Campaign Edge executive creative director, Dee Madigan admitted “as much as people hate negative ads, we know they work, and I think this election sort of proved that”.

Madigan, a regular Gruen panelist, who also ran the winning Australian Labor Party’s advertising campaign told Mumbrella that her and her team nutted out the strategy “about a year and a half ago”, and after that, it was clear what was needed to be done.

Campaign Edge’s Madigan on this week’s Mumbrellacast

“We knew the job we had to do on Morrison,” Madigan said. “I know from my experience during election campaigns, the best way is not to tell people, but to show people, and it was just a matter of using his own words really, to remind people why they didn’t like him.”

Madigan said a campaign needs to find a balance between positive and negative, though the reality is that “we’re hardwired to notice negative information”.

“The broad aims of most political parties are the same, it’s the methods of getting there that are different.”

When asked if the same attack approach works in commercial advertising, she said “it can if you’re the challenger, it can be really fruitful”.

“You have to just be careful, like I don’t do ‘yellow and black doom and gloom’ attack ads in politics or anywhere else, but if you do an attack ad with a bit of humor or with a bit of cheekiness or letting the other side almost do the attack for you and just frame it up, it can be really effective in advertising.”

“We’ve seen it throughout the years where burger king has had a go at McDonald’s or I think it was Avis who had the line of something about ‘we try harder because we’re the second best’. There’s a lot of spaces to go in that, but you’ve just got to do it with a bit of cleverness.

During the conversation, while Madigan said the UAP’s ads were “terrible”, and that ‘it won’t be easy under Albanese’ was a “poor line” and “poor strategically”, she admitted that the ‘bucket’ campaign “as annoying as it was, was at least on strategy going to Labor’s brand weakness, which is that they are seen to be the party that spends”.

“But it’s a very hard argument to make when you have doubled the debt before COVID as the liberal party,” she continued. “But it was ear-wormy, I get why people hated it, but it was probably their better ad.”

Listen to the full conversation below on this week’s Mumbrellacast, and catch all previous episodes here. 


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