Dee Madigan: Govt’s Zero Chance Ads ‘Strategically Smart’ And ‘Well Executed’

Dee Madigan: Govt’s Zero Chance Ads ‘Strategically Smart’ And ‘Well Executed’

One of Australia’s leading advertising executives says that Governments border security ads that depict the peril of asylum seekers in Sri Lanka, including attempts of suicide, are fine if based on real life stories.

The Government’s contentious Zero Chance ads that attempt to deter asylum seekers from migrating to Australia in boats has received some support from Campaign Edge ECD and founding partner Dee Madigan.

The 30-second spots are part of Australia’s Zero Chance campaign, which has run in 11 countries since 2019.

This recent iteration of the Zero Chance depicts the how failed attempts to migrate illegally via boat can have a devastating impact individuals and families, including their mental health.

One spot shows a man contemplating suicide after a failed attempt to immigrate to Australia illegally via people smugglers, using money that had been saved for his mother’s surgery.

Another depicts the impact of a father leaving behind his family, with a mother struggling to make ends meet and contemplating ending her life. A third ad (video below) features a man lamenting a series of failures in his life, including losing his partner and business.

The ads were slated as “unethical and repugnant” by marketing academics in a Sydney Morning Herald article, with University of Sydney’s Dr Rohan Miller suggesting the “shock and awe” tactics were unlikely to deter asylum seekers.

Madigan, a regular on ABC’s Gruen, told B&T the ads, which feature depictions of suicide attempts, would not fall foul of advertising standards in Australia provided they include Lifeline information at the end.

“I think it’s strategically smart because it uses kids/elderly parents as the motivator,” Madigan said. “Creatively it’s well executed. I assume they are based on real stories and if so, I don’t have a problem with it ethically.”

Since its launch in 2019, the Zero Chance campaign has reached more than 325 million potential immigrants and attracted 806.1 million video views, according to the Australian Border Force.

In 2022, about 1,200 Sri Lankans were detained by the Sri Lankan navy while attempting to reach Australia.

You can contact Lifeline on 131 114 and Beyond Blue on 1300 224 636. 

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