Neil Lawrence, the marketer behind the Kevin07 ad campaign, has slammed the Gillard government’s attempt to sell the carbon tax as “clumsy and asinine”.

Lawrence, who supports putting a price on carbon, says Labor’s communications strategy since winning office has been overly negative.

“Their line was: we are going to get this money from the 100 big polluters — as if these industries’ reason for being is to pollute,” he told The Power Index.

“I think the sell should have been: this is an issue for everyone and we all contribute. This is a massive change and it’ll cost all of us something … As a Labor government we have a bias, of course, to making sure those who can least afford it are least affected. But the idea this has all been caused by evil, big polluters — I find that clumsy and asinine. It doesn’t leave you a lot of room for sophisticated selling.”

Lawrence, who crafted the ad campaign that helped kill Kevin Rudd’s original mining tax, is profiled today as No.7 on The Power Index’s list of spinners and advisers. He is a passionate believer in the power of positive advertising.

Lawrence says the mining tax, like the carbon tax, was poorly sold by the government.

“I didn’t like the suggestion that there is a small number of rich fat mining magnates who are ripping off Australians and sending most of the profits overseas … I found that inaccurate, misleading 1970s Trot sort of thinking. They demonised the industry and tried to play the xenophobic card,” he said.

Lawrence continued to work with Labor after the 2007 election, but was forced out of the party’s inner sanctum when Karl Bitar replaced Tim Gartrell as national secretary in October 2008. Bitar has since gone on to become a lobbyist for Crown Casino.

Since the start of this year, Lawrence has been working with Sydney PR supremo Sue Cato on a campaign in favour of pokies reform. The Stop the Loss Coalition — which also includes Tim Costello, GetUp and the Uniting Church — is preparing to launch its TV ads.

*Comment on this story at The Power Index

Peter Fray

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