Labor’s political advertising has been widely canned so just
what sort of ads should they have run? We asked Crikey subscribers and
here are some of their better suggestions as well as our initial sealed
section missives.

Ted Horton take a bow and bring back Singo

An advertising expert writes:

Simon Canning was right on Friday in The Australian when he singled out the Liberal’s advertising was much much better than Labor’s.

Even
though the interest rate campaign was misinformation it hit the nerve
of a public who really don’t have much interest or a grasp of
economics. Intelligent people I know were fooled.

It was
the work of Ted Horton, an advertising genius who learnt his craft at
the knee of advertising icons Mo and Jo. What they taught him was that
he shouldn’t write ads for his advertising friends but for the people.
And it was that common touch in communicating with the people that won
the campaign.

Who is Bill Shannon at Shannon’s Way and the
team at Saatchi & Saatchi compared to Horton? There is only one
person with the same common touch to bring back Labor into power. Love
or hate the ocker king, Singo is the man. They’ve got about two years
to ponder it.

Negative campaigns that have worked

Despite
wishful thinking on the issue, the last string of elections have shown
that negative campaigns do work, so it is hard to work out why Mark
Latham was so determined to be positive, apart from the liar, liar
element.

Keating won in 1993 with a GST scare campaign,
Howard won in 1996 with an anti-Keating backlash, Beazley in 1998 won
the majority of the two party preferred vote (but in the wrong seats)
with another anti-GST campaign, Howard won in 2001 with the Tampa and
September 11 (suggesting Labor was soft on national security) and
Howard campaigned this time with a scare campaign on interest rates and
nothing else.

Labor needed to attack Howard savagely to
have a chance of winning. The campaign on Costello was not nearly
enough. Costello is unpopular with the electorate – largely because of
his smirking body language – although the intelligentsia might prefer
him to Howard, but that wasn’t going to swing it. It also constituted a
back-handed compliment to Howard.

The anti-Costello campaign probably contributed to the Coalition’s across the board rise in Victoria.

Okay,
the challenge now is to identify what sort of negative campaign Labor
should have run. Does anyone think attacks on Howard’s personal
indulgences would have worked? Record wine consumption at The Lodge and
Kirribilli, record overseas travel costs, the cost of living in two
houses, bailing out his brother’s firm, giving all that work to his old
firm Clayton Utz, hanging Janette’s portrait in Old Parly House, hiring
his son to spam voters, sending another son to work on Duyba’s campaign
etc etc.

Send in your thoughts on what ads and flyers Labor should have run to boss @crikey.com.au.

The ads Labor should have run

An advertising journalist writes:

These two might have gone okay for Labor:

“Under
John Howard oil prices are higher than ever in history. Under John
Howard oil prices are going to become even higher as he continues his
support for George Bush’s ware on Irag. Vote Labor, not war.”

“Under
John Howard’s government more Australian’s have become victims of
terrorism than ever before. Vote against terrorism. Vote Labor.”

A journalist writes:

Dear
Crikey, my campaign against Howard would have started with the “I want
to be PM” quote and photo from John Howard’s lawyer days, then I would
have pointed out the lies with images including economic lies such as
the never ever GST (even if it is a sensible tax).

I then
would have argued that you can’t trust a man who has always wanted to
be Prime Minsiter (although Latham probably has to) as it leads to a
willingness to risk the lives of Australian soldiers and tourists for
the sake of his own standing in the world – a picture of John and
George being matey – “This is why we went to Iraq.”

I also
would have thrown in the interest rate thing under Fraser, because it
was Howard’s beat up over this, that I reckon won him the election.

A subscriber writes:

Crikey,
I can’t understand why Latham didnt run on Howard’s high-taxing record.
Combine this with a promise to index taxation and Howard would have
been wedged to the wall amid a huge debate about bracket creep and high
personal tax rates. Tax indexation would have had enormous popular
support, and Ratty couldn’t ever afford it and the vote buying spree he
engaged in.

Latham did mention fixed term parliaments just
prior to the election, then it disapperaed – again it would generate a
lot of support, and Howard would never support it – he’d have a lot of
trouble squeezing out of that.

Negative things they could
push against Howard – the list is almost endless, all the way back to
his own abysmal performance as Treasurer.

A media monitoring executive writes:

Hi
Crikey, I’m sure I’m not the only Liberal supporter who was laughing
about Labor’s ads. So if I was on the other side, this would be my
suggestion:

“In the last eight years, the Howard Government
has lied about x,y,z, we have a GST, we now have the highest taxing
government in history, personal debt is at record levels, petrol prices
have rocketed up, and thanks to a war we went into under false
pretences, Australia is at greater risk of terrorism.

Are you more relaxed and comfortable?”

Whoever
said Labor shouldn’t run a deeply negative campaign should be sacked.
Actually, they should be promoted – it’ll make it easier for Costello
to get up in 2007.

Cheers, WA voter