POLITICAL ADVERTISING IN AUSTRALIA
A Dynamic Force Meets a Resilient Object
AUSTRALIA'S MOST RECENT FEDERAL ELECTION, fought out in late 1984, showcased all the weapons at the disposal of the modem advertising agency: prime time TV buys for paid ads, snappy campaign jingles and slogans about family and nationalism, staged media events to grab the attention of the electronic news media, massive market research, and million dollar budgets. 1
TV advertising has become entrenched in Australian politics over the last dozen years. For both major parties, competing for votes included competing for newer and better advertising techniques, as they regularly pour more than half their total campaign budgets into TV time buying, research, and production. If political ad campaigns are similar in style and content to the marketing of rival brands of soap, as critics so often say, then Madison Avenue could happily move out to Melbourne. Australian voters have long been awash with suds.
However, the 1984 Federal Election campaign was not a miniature replica of the American Presidential contest earlier that same year. To continue the analogy, there were clear local differences in the brands of "soap," and the ways they were marketed to Australian and American voters.