With all the three-word slogans and future broken promises being pepper-sprayed on the Australian public by Mr Abbott and Mr Rudd of late, I feel compelled to offer up an alternative.
Mr Abbott and Mr Rudd's individual goals are, in principle, the same and simple – they want to inspire the Australian public to vote for them. Unfortunately their slogans and tactics to date have been anything but inspirational.
Mr Rudd unveiled the Australian Labor Party’s 2013 election slogan, ‘A New Way’, on September 7th. Mr Abbott retorted with a triple barreled slogan for the Coalition, ‘Choose Real Change. A Stronger Australia. A Better Future’.
It’s safe to assume that incredible amounts of research and soul searching went into each of these slogans, but they don't really mean anything tangible and I’m certain the Australian public aren’t absorbing or associating with them in any meaningful way. Brevity is a powerful tool but nowhere near as powerful as comprehension and connection.
A slogan in itself doesn't mean much, it's a handful of words. But when you put it together with a campaign full of ideas, colour and movement with one overriding and clear message, then it becomes a meaningful slogan. When created and executed well, it becomes a virtual circle: the slogan suggests something meaningful, the actions of the party reinforce the slogan, then the audience listens, engages and hopefully responds.
Close your eyes and imagine for a second – you hear the crowd chant 'C'mon, Aussie, c'mon' – you see images of Lillee running in to bowl – it’s a big moment. What began as a blatantly simple and childlike few words takes on meaning when associated with something or someone representative of a valued idea, action or principle. It has the power to galvanise a nation.
So why doesn't 'A New Way' work? Because it has no underlying energy, no impetus in what Rudd represents. Where is the new way? What do we see in the colour and energy of his campaign that reinforces the slogan? What's new? In my view, it's a paper thin attempt to hark back to New Labor.
So what’s wrong with ‘Choose real change. A stronger Australia. A Better Future.’? Well to start with, that's three slogans. And three ideas: change, strength and a better future. Too much. And beneath it, no single direction or proposition that reinforces the words. Nothing memorable, nothing to excite or inspire.
Not a pleasant thought perhaps, but imagine locking yourself in a room with Mr Abbott or Mr Rudd for a day (yes, a whole day) and getting them to talk about their lives, their past, their dreams, and their most enthusiastic intentions for Australia… for the whole world. I refuse to believe that you would not generate a set of genuine and inspiring ideas from which a few words could be simmered out to encapsulate an honest and heartfelt vision.
As a guy who creates brands and writes slogans for a living, I guess you’d expect me to list off a series of new and improved slogans for our respective political gladiators. This is not going to happen.
To date, the Australian voter has heard too many words and seen nowhere near enough action from both leaders and to me this appears to be the missing link.
Actions Not Slogans
The irony is not lost on me that the above is basically a slogan. The difference is that it would be the very last slogan from either party. Our leaders need to take the bold step and act first and speak second. In advertising we call it ‘DoSay’. It’s the simple strategy of doing something great first and then telling customers about it second, rather than the other way around. It's authentic, powerful and inspirational.
In a landscape of words, actions speak very loudly.
Jonathan Pease is executive ideas director and managing partner at Tongue.