Page 340 - Week 01 - Thursday, 11 December 2008

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Slogans and jingles are fundamental to marketing. They raise levels of awareness and recall. An average person is exposed to thousands of advertising messages a day. Government information is there competing with the soft drinks, motor mechanics and cars for a share of the community’s consciousness.

I have always thought the point of advertising was to catch attention and to leave a lasting impression. In fact, I would have imagined that when a government was spending ratepayers’ money to inform the community about government services and programs, it would have been derelict to do otherwise. Clearly, this is not the view of the Leader of the Opposition.

For the Leader of the Opposition, anything approaching a slogan, anything sounding like a jingle, has no place in publicly funded advertising. “Do the right thing.” Not if the Leader of the Opposition has his way. “See yourself in Canberra.” Not in Mr Seselja’s Canberra where bland is better. “Think water, act water; stop the drop.” Sounds a bit catchy to me; just a bit political. Think about it. “Think water, act water; stop the drop.” How political is that? That screams from the roof tops, “Vote Labor.” Perhaps we should change the words, “Think water, act water; stop the drop.” We could change them in Mr Seselja’s world to “Canberra residents are strongly advised to consider their water consumption patterns and to adjust their behaviour appropriately.” Mr Seselja’s “Live in Canberra” slogan could be, “Potential interstate and international migrants are encouraged to consider the national capital as a destination of choice.”

Slogans and jingles are not about patting ourselves on the back. They are about best practice marketing. They are about value for money. I was under the impression that best practice and value for money are the things that governments were meant to strive for—even the Auditor-General tells us that—not to deliberately avoid. Don’t we want job seekers to be persuaded that great jobs come with the territory? I thought we wanted to attract the best.

The most startling thing is that this apparently serious attempt—

MR SPEAKER: Order! The Chief Minister’s time has expired.

MR STANHOPE: to legislate for bad, boring advertising—to codify dumbness—

MR SPEAKER: Chief Minister!

MR STANHOPE: is introduced by a man who has spent the past year—

MR SPEAKER: Sit down, Chief Minister. Don’t force me to name you, Chief Minister.

MR STANHOPE: turning himself into a one-word billboard—“Z”.

I ask that further questions be placed on the notice paper.

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