The conventional
wisdom is that the Howard Government’s IR print advertising campaign is not much
good – too dense, too many words, too grey. Yet the approach may
be more subtle – and quite clever as well.

Early focus group
testing of the IR campaign, details of which were leaked to The Daily Telegraph,
indicated that people were unconvinced by the campaigns then being tested. Too
vague, too general and not specific about what the legislation might contain
were the sorts of responses the concept testing provoked. Why can’t you show us
the legislation itself was another.

In contrast the new
multi-million dollar print campaign, spread over four pages, appears specific,
detailed and explanatory. Now the obvious response to this is that on close
reading the same vagueness and generality – plus some inaccuracies – still
applies.

But the point is that the ads are probably not meant to be read at all
– they are really meant to just convey an overall impression that the
government has a detailed, thought-out policy which answers all the
queries.

But, clever and
subtle or not, the real question is whether or not it will work. In the past ten
years John Howard has been remarkably brilliant in using downward envy, fear,
uncertainty, and a hair-splitting way with the truth to devastate opponents and
win remarkable victories.

Read more on the website.

Peter Fray

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Editor-in-chief of Crikey

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