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Election 2016: How private organisations and lobby groups are influencing with paid media

Change Makers

Election 2016: How private organisations and lobby groups are influencing with paid media


With only days until the Australian Federal Election 2016, David Waller continues his coverage, this week discussing private organisations and lobby groups running their own political advertisements.

DavidWaller 180It has been said that ‘election time is the only time politicians will listen to you.’

During this election there have been a number of ads based on issues hoping that politicians (and voters) will be listening. It has not only been political parties that have run political advertisements. Unions, business groups, and trade associations are using this special time to present and promote their points of view on political issues in which they are involved.

Trade unions have often used paid media at an election time. These could be to seek public or official support, advocate the positions they prefer on key issues, or to champion principles such as education, health care, the environment, and other key policy areas.

Related: Last week, Waller discussed the issue of ‘truth’ in political campaigns, and why marketing watchdogs won’t touch false or misleading political advertising »

These are seen as supposedly independent of the political parties, but can support a party and so can be more critical, or even more creative, than an advertisement by one of the established parties. For example the ‘Put the Liberals Last’ campaign by the ACTU.

Workers pay the price for big business cuts:


Or the Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation:



And for education:


Position-taking advertisements can sometimes have a degree of political risk, as taking a public stance on an issue can be interpreted as a partisan opinion and the advertisement can be seen as simply campaigning on behalf of one of the political parties. This could be a reason for a relatively vague message by the Business Council of Australia:

BCA – Strong Business. Strong Australia.


Of course, there are also businesses that might use an election theme to sell their product, whether it is for chocolate or burgers:

Kit Kat: Meet Dale Jeffries, Leader of The Breakers Party:



Hungry Jacks: Whopper for PM:


Just a few more days and the election campaign will be almost over!


David Waller is a senior lecturer in marketing with UTS Business School. Before joining the university sector, he worked in the banking and film industries. His PhD thesis looked at political advertising.


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