Yes and No campaigns slammed as ‘grubby second-hand car dealers’

A marketing expert from The University Of Sydney has slammed both the Yes and No campaigns for acting like “grubby second-hand car dealers”.

Vince Mitchell, professor of marketing at The University of Sydney, told Mumbrella the text messages sent out by the Yes campaign over the weekend were “bad marketing” and could be in breach of the ACMA protection guidelines.

The message, which appeared on people’s screens as from ‘YesEquality’ said: “The Marriage Equality Survey forms have arrived! Help make history and vote YES for a fairer Australia”.

“It is alleged that some of the people who received these texts were not supporters of ‘yes’, had not signed up to the marriage equality, had not given over their number and if they had given over their number, they’d not necessarily given over permission to be contacted in this way.

“It is likely [YesEquality] would be in breach of that code of conduct.

“Without permission you should not be using modes of contact electronically, or otherwise, that people haven’t allowed you to do,” Professor Mitchell said.

Alex Greenwich, co-chair of the Equality Campaign, said in a statement to Mumbrella: “The campaign is using every resource available to make sure fairness and equality are achieved for all Australians.

“The campaign has a responsibility to encourage every Australian to post their survey and we have done this through door-knocking, media, advertising, social media and SMS messaging.

“It’s so important to reach as many Australians as possible and remind them this is a vote about fairness and ensuring every Australian is equal under the law,” Greenwhich said.

The professor put the text messages from the Yes campaign and ‘robo’ calls from the No campaign down to the high amounts of emotion and passion running throughout both campaigns.

“Passions are running high on both sides and I can see why both sides have gone for the emotional campaign, but the hope versus fear campaigning is something which is fraught with risks, because it gets people to act emotionally and that usually means to begin to act beyond what other people who are not emotionally involved would find reasonable and acceptable.

“It’s possible both sides have wound themselves up so emotionally that they have made these potential marketing mistakes by using ‘robo’ calls and SMS messages, partly because they feel the communication ends justifies the media means.”

He urged the campaigners to pull back on the emotion and focus on the “logical thoughtful arguments” which may be helpful in driving the conversation forwards.

Professor Mitchell believed Yes Equality may have used either an outdated data base or a list of numbers which was purchased purely for marketing purposes.

“Given we have seen a little bit of it here now, I am all for saying ‘no stop please don’t do this’, it’s bad marketing and secondly it will give the campaign and the cause a bad reputation because people will beginning to focus on the medium rather than the message.”

Highlighting the dangers caused by the text messages sent out over the weekend, the professor said it could damage the Yes campaign’s moral high ground it has gained throughout the campaigning period.

“Most people would agree there is a moral high ground the Yes campaign does have and therefore they need to be whiter than white in order to maintain not only the support of the people who will invariably vote yes, but also the people who have a conscious on what’s right for the world and what is right and just.

“Anything that seems to be unjust and unfair, such as sending out a text to people who didn’t ask for them, damages that moral high ground and the just fairness aspect of their campaign,” he added.

Discussing further marketing opportunities for both the Yes and No campaigns, the professor weighed in on whether or not the platforms currently being used to advertise are affective.

“When you have socially acceptable messages and high moral ground then the use of TV advertisements to communicate a mass feel good, hope kind of message is a good thing that the marriage equality campaign have not done as much of, instead the no campaign have gone for the [widespread] TV campaign.

“It’s more difficult to gain acceptance of the ‘no’ kind of fear vote which is based upon the fear of a link between marriage equality and children’s education – which may have little or no evidence – and therefore when you’re pandering to potential prejudices like that, the last thing you want is to do that in the public TV forum and using that for an advertising medium.

“That message is much better placed in blogs, in social media, in highly targeted digital media which actually theYes campaign seem to be slightly better at doing.”

The professor said the Yes campaign should be utilising more of broadcast media to spread its messages and the No campaign should be using niche targeted micro media and social media.

“It is not as acceptable to agree with the no campaign in public and social media tends to be a much more of a private consumed media,” he noted.


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