The editor in chief of the Australian, Chris Mitchell, was quick to assure Crikey this morning that he didn’t write the poem on page eight of the paper today, run in yet another mass commandeering of space as part of the paper’s new “Heart of the Nation” marketing campaign.

Didn’t he think it was cheesy?

“They seem to like it in Adland,” said Mitchell, sounding a little bashful.

Here it is:

“When the old and the new
Are both true blue
That’s Australian

When the call that help is needed
Won’t go unheeded
That’s Australian

When persistence is the answer
For curing a cancer
That’s Australian”

And so on and so forth. The man responsible for the dulcet lines is apparently Ian Watson of The Australian’s advertising agency Clemengers.

Surely this campaign, run under the tagline “Heart of the Nation” is unlikely to appeal to the paper’s hard nosed high income readers? (link http://newsmedianet.com.au/home/titles/title/Demographics.jsp?titleid=5)

Mitchell confesses: “It’s absolutely aimed at advertisers more than anyone else.”

The marketing department, he says, felt that the paper’s image, based around the previous marketing tag “Are you a well informed Australian?” lacked “emotional connection”. The aim of the Heart of the Nation stuff is to make it easier to sell ads by positioning “what the paper is all about” in the minds of the buyers of space, says Mitchell.

Or in other words:

“When hard work on the ground
brings prosperity all around
That’s Australian”

They hope.

And is Mitchell concerned about the amount of space the campaign is commandeering – including running all over page three on the weekend?

“I have reams of space, as you can see,” says Mitchell. And laughs.

Apparently patriotism and emotion is a better pull than the promise of information these days – or so the marketers believe.

The campaign, launched last weekend, includes television and cinema advertising, and includes images of an Australian Muslim surf lifesaver and an image of Australian of the Year, Professor Ian Frazer alongside the late Dr. Jian Zhou who developed a vaccine to treat cervical cancer.

The Managing Director, Alasdair Macleod, has said (link http://www.bandt.com.au/news/DB/0C04E7DB.asp) that the campaign is “designed to emphasise how The Australian, much more so than our competitors, reflects the values of modern Australia: increasingly outward -looking, optimistic and more and more self-assured about our country’s role in the world.”

Can’t resist another stanza:

“When the cries of our young
Bring us together as one
That’s Australian.”

The Oz, by the way, sells 129,000 copies a day, with a readership skewed to older professional and white collar men.

Still, nothing wrong with aspiration.

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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