Morrison may be making a fundamental marketing mistake in his current frenetic pursuit of photo ops.
It was extremely effective in 2019 when he was relatively unknown – that is while he was known to be the new Prime Minister – but his background, personality and interests were not
So, pursuing a tactic of presenting as regular bloke doing regular things was both sensible and effective – particular when opposed to Bill Shorten who was easy to portray as an apparatchik skilled in political scheming.
Now, sadly for him politically, the public knows him only too well.
Yet he’s out there washing a woman’s hair; crammed in a Bathurst racing car; playing the ukulele; and, generally trying to be visible day after day in a seemingly never-ending succession of PR events and photo ops.
Some of them are embarrassing and dangerous as Crikey’s Charlie Lewis points out (21 February): “Just as Tony Abbott’s stewardship came to be represented by the image of him tearing into a raw onion with its skin on like a dog being offered an ice cream, this may come to represent Scott Morrison’s. I’m speaking of course of the footage where Morrison, visiting Specialised Welding & Engineering in the Northern Territory, decided to get a closer look at his work, leaned in and lifted his protective mask as the white-hot sparks spat in his direction.”
Now every tradie (male or female), who Morrison imagines he communes with in unique ways, would tell him that sort of behaviour is dangerous and likely to get you kicked off a job. And, as any PR person would tell him – the resultant pic was hardly one Darryl Kerrigan would send straight to the pool room. But it could be useful for a horror film or an ALP ad.
The women, who polls show are deserting him in droves, cringe at the hair washing; feel cold about the Bathurst car; and, think ukuleles are passe except when its Elvis in Blue Hawaii. Although on second thoughts most of the women deserting him weren’t born when Elvis made the film 61 years ago.
His problem in 2022 is that he is now known. Indeed, known to the extent that his approval ratings have plummeted; his reputation for lying has become the butt of jokes as well as disgust; and, the refusal to accept handshakes from disgusted voters affected by the bushfires is being taken up by others today as gesture about their feelings.
This comes on top of his recent failure to get traction on some of his trademark, research tested, slogans. The debacle of can-do capitalism as opposed to can’t do government was an indication of a politician who has lost any touch he might have had when it comes to slogans.
He hasn’t done too badly on China scares but whether this has the power of the 1960s DLP ads is another question in an era where Australians are more likely to take their first overseas holiday in Asia rather than London.
And why on earth is he spending his time on stunts when there are major issues like the recovery from an ongoing COVID pandemic and policy failures across myriad areas which are affecting people from aged care residents and their families to young gig workers facing insecure employment and exploitation?
Currently he is spending more than half a billion of taxpayers’ money on advertising campaigns promoting his widely derided climate plan and other equally empty policy areas.
He has spent more time on religious discrimination than on establishing an integrity body – let alone one with teeth.
And to top it all he is busy handing out millions in contracts to ad and PR firms for which he’s not even getting value for money.
As Anna Macdonald reports in Mumbrella (21 February): “An audit for the Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Communications (Department of Infrastructure)’s ‘Building Our Future’ campaign has found that WPP’s Ogilvy PR failed to deliver on PR activities that were paid for or delivered them in insufficient time to be used.”
The ANAO found that although the Department of Infrastructure’s campaign was “largely effective” in adhering to government framework, some “shortcomings” were identified.
Macdonald reports that a pre-recorded introduction featuring Michael McCormack for a ‘Movie Roadshow’, cost $353,730 but was not used because the ads must not promote a particular party or politician..
“One of the PR activities…… was the distribution of MP and Senator toolkits which cost $55, 565. The audit found it unclear which MPs and Senators were to receive the toolkits.
“Another was opinion editorials by McCormack, which the audit stated: ‘In the response to the request for quote, this activity was presented by Ogilvy PRF as opinion editorials (which were to) to be published in the Minister’s name. The reason for this decision was not documented by Infrastructure.”
Macdonald reports that Ogilvy PR did procure three media spots with outlets off the back of a ‘consumer happiness’ survey. The survey cost $58,680 and the news stories cost $30,000 and that the agency also produced short films showcasing local case studies.
The total spend to Ogilvy PR was $900,000. Your taxes at work and yet more evidence that the Morrison marketing is nowadays about as good as the marketing which got him sacked from both Tourism Australia and Tourism New Zealand.