Thursday, September 23, 2004

Nothing good on telly lately

I’ve been lucky enough to spot a few electoral advertisements and I have to say that so far, I am pretty disappointed with Labor’s efforts. Seems like they’ve had one idea and carried it through several ads. And let me say it seems like they have one idea several years ago. I don’t think I’m imagining having seen the doctors’ waiting room ‘Hot Auctions’ style scenario. Other people have confirmed that they too think it is a recycled ad.

The same theme has been applied to education, with oh-so earnest looking publicly educated kiddies being outbid by smug-looking private school kiddies for a university degree. So, what clever visual cues does the ad employ to denote the educational background of the bidders in this auction?

Well, the very obvious private school kiddie wears a very sharp blazer. Now the blazer alone is not obvious enough if you ask me – blazers were compulsory at the Guvvie school I attended. Just as well then that private school kiddie has a superior look on his face. This way we are in no doubt that he has recently graduated from Lord Fatwallet’s Academy for Gross Inequity.

The public school kiddie? Well, he’s there in his casual attire. I’m not quite sure what the point of that is (why isn’t he just wearing a Guvvie school uniform?). He also sports scruffy hair and generally looks a bit anguished (probably from trying to climb a ladder without rungs – I can imagine that would be really hard and frustrating, think of the splinters!).

All in all I reckon I’d give these two ads a combined score of 2 out of 5. In my humble opinion, viewers are already well aware of the pro-education and pro-health policies of the ALP. An ad in which specific reference is made to Coalition Government announcements and policies which have damaged Medicare and ruined Universities would be far more effective. But obviously, I don’t have access to the kinds of focus groups and research which would have informed this commercial. Also, I’ll admit to a general desire to see the government slagged off on TV – a desire which probably doesn’t always align with principles of good campaigning.

As for Coalition ads, I’ve only seen a couple, one of which was the first real scare-tactic ad I’ve seen (apart from the Murdoch press). This ad focused on Latham’s time as Mayor of Liverpool Council and featured such brilliant visual cues as a black-on-yellow ‘L’ for ‘learner’ plate near the word ‘Latham’. Brilliant!

Now, just to prove I haven’t lost my ability to focus on trivial and insignificant aspects of this election, I’ve come to notice a difference in the overall colour schemes being used by Coalition ads on the one hand, and ALP ads on the other. Coalition ads attempting to portray negative images of the ALP predominantly use black and white, with red accents. The ALP’s ads, and specifically the final frame of the ads where Latham’s face and slogan are displayed, use lots of blues (very calming and reassuring – ahhhhh).

Now, I would like to share with you some knowledge I picked up years ago, care of a very short career in the retail industry. Back then, as I was peeling chewing gum off the shop floor and folding my one-millionth pair of $10 tracky-daks, I would never have guessed that working in sports-retail would assist me in putting together an analysis of electoral advertisements. But there you go. Looks like all that crap I put on my resume about the position giving me ‘transferable skills’ wasn’t so far off the mark.

But anyway, it was one of those stores which was always having a sale on. New stock would come in, and at the same time we put on the regular price labels, we would attach the ‘reduced price’ labels. The store was always decorated wall-to-wall with ‘Sale’ signs. The prices never actually went down, we just changed the theme of the sale, to make people think we’d made new reductions. So, one week it would be ‘school holidays’ specials, two weeks later it would be a ‘back to school’ sale of the century. You get the idea.

Anyway, one day, whilst pondering the half-life of the in-store supply of socks (you know, the ones you use to try on shoes when you forgot your own), my manager let me in on a retail-psychology secret. The most successful sales were the ones where the store was decorated in red, black and white signs and banners. The data on the computers backed this up.

Apparently, the human eye is immediately drawn to this combination of colours as they convey messages of urgency and compel action. So, it doesn’t matter if the hideous basketball shoes endorsed by a player accused of sexual assault are still on a cost+50% mark-up, put a red, white and black sign over them and people will think they’ve scored the bargain of the year and will slap them on their 12 year-old’s feet.

The point of all this useless information? I have come to the conclusion that the Government is being run by a group of ex-retail managers – which would greatly explain their overall meanness, stupidity and their complete and utter craptitude. Anyone else who has ever worked in retail will most certainly agree.


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