“Advertising A Dodgy Product”: Why Creative Agencies Don’t Put Their Names To Political Ads

“Advertising A Dodgy Product”: Why Creative Agencies Don’t Put Their Names To Political Ads
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In case you missed all the glorious, if somewhat dodgy, election advertising that’s pervaded the media the last few weeks, the federal election is happening tomorrow May 18.

There has been plenty of advertisements doing the rounds in the leadup to the election, yet none of the creative agencies seem to be too keen on boasting about their creative efforts.

B&T wanted to know why agencies are hesitant to put their names to political ads, and we certainly received some very interesting responses. Is it embarrassment? Is it to remain bipartisan? Or is it simply bad for business?

The Works co-founder and creative partner Damian Pincus said it’s because political advertising is “formulaic and unadventurous”, and agencies would rather put their names to ads that express their creativity and effectiveness of their work.

He said: “If you watch TV or read a daily newspaper you couldn’t have failed to miss Clive Palmer’s United Australia Party’s near saturation of political ads. I think it’s fair to say some are just bizarre and seem to make no real point. The offerings from the other main parties aren’t much better.

“Australian political advertising is formulaic and unadventurous when compared to that done in other markets. So while there remains a malaise by the main political parties to break from the tradition of ‘attack ads’, it is not a huge surprise that agencies are reticent to put their name to the work they are producing.

“Agencies want to express their creativity and also the effectiveness of their work, but with political advertising, the way it currently is, that’s a tall order for any creative business wanting to engage with.”

DDB Sydney chief creative officer Ben Welsh said the reason creative agencies are hesitant to put their names to political ads “because it could be bad for business.”

Welsh said it could also be because political ads “tend to be advertising a dodgy product”, adding that “most of the ads are so bad, you wouldn’t want to be associated with them.”

Campaign Edge owner and executive creative director at Dee Madigan believed agencies don’t boast about their political campaigns for the simple reason they don’t want to appear partisan, or not receive any future government work.

She said: “It’s not that agencies are embarrassed to put their name to political ads, it’s that many agencies generally don’t want to do, or be seen to do, political campaigns as they are worried it precludes them from getting any future government work if they are seen as partisan.”

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