Think Before You Sink, Making Your Advertising Message Clear

 In Ask The Experts, Marketing

I read such an interesting article on SMH today regarding the new Carbon Tax TV commercial which launched nationally the other night starring our very own Hollywood darling Cate Blanchett (

I love this article because it is so succinct. Every point made is backed up by an example. It really dissects the Ad and makes you think about advertising on a different level. It breaks down where this ad has gone wrong and makes you wonder how the agency producing this TVC didn’t see these particular points during the creative process.

Now I’m not saying I’m an expert on carbon tax – quite the contrary, I am merely pointing out that after reading Rowan Deans article it got me thinking how important nailing your advertising is to your brand and to your cause. It’s vital to get your audience on side by tapping into what they need and showing them you understand it. I want to share a few points with you that Dean has touched on in his article.

After reading this, what really stands out to me, is the absolute necessity to have a clear message when advertising your brand/product etc. It needs to be thought about and decisive. You can’t just make bold statements without the goods to back it up; it also highlights how important it is to understand your audience and who you are trying to engage.

Who is your target market? How do you want to speak to them? What do you want the focus to be?

In this article, Dean maintains, the ad failed to reach the audience and in the end achieve its goal of recruiting more supporters of Carbon tax. It raises an interesting point, when talking to your audience and trying to get them on side, how do you educate and inform without being condescending, patronizing and in some cases just plain naff?

So, the Ad is about Carbon Tax, but due to putting a high paid celebrity in the midst the focus becomes not on Carbon tax but on Cate Blanchett. The other thing is they are aiming the ad towards a lower economical demographic but have put a Hollywood star to talk to them. How can they relate to someone who gets paid millions? Yes the ad has worked in terms of generating awareness but it has generated awareness on Cate and not on carbon tax. It’s made the audience insecure and I think slightly resentful. “Of course she can afford itI’m sure is being muttered in many lounge rooms across Australia.

Another element he taps into is the messaging and slogan, stating that from day dot the Government hasn’t been able to pin point how to sell carbon tax to the public. It’s been fraying between “good thing for our planet” and “a million people will be better off” If you can’t get a grasp on what your message is than how do you expect your audience to?

The slogan is so important. It’s the final note you want to leave your audience with, the cherry on top if you will, a few poignant words that will stay with your audience and get them thinking.  In this TVC they have run with. “Say Yes to new money for clean energy that never runs out” What the???  This slogan is confusing, even when Dean dissects it, it still makes no sense. If they were trying to have an Obama type moment, I think they totally missed the mark. Obama’s ‘YES WE CAN’ slogan united a nation and gave hope to a government that had taken quite a battering. In this case because of its confusing nature the audience has nothing to hold onto or relate to.

And finally, in this TVC, the topic is important, delicate and serious, a cause that is potentially harmful to our planet and let’s say the future of our unborn children. You would think it would be wise to depict a world that is real and that is dependable. By showing an unreal backdrop with blue skies and cheery windmills it negates the issue, it also implies that a carbon free world is a fantasy and comes off as just another form of phony Hollywood propaganda.  Stay true to your message and your cause; don’t mask it with bells and whistles.

Now I know this campaign isn’t exactly small potatoes, it’s the Australian Government after all; however the same concept applies to your small business. If you are planning to run an advertising campaign whether it be online, through TVC or perhaps even print mediums. Think things through. Know your audience. Consider your tone when you speak to them, have a clear message and try and engage them, not isolate. Also try not to assume what people can or can’t understand – if you treat people like idiots they will resent you.

Advertising is after all subjective, what doesn’t reach one person could ignite something in another, however in my opinion I think Dean is absolutely correct in his critique and the Australian government did fall short in this campaign.

Advertising can be a powerful and useful tool. Use it wisely.


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