Graffiti marketing provokes debate

There’s some pretty powerful political messages appearing around Perth in the last few days of the election campaign, but they’re not part of any official advertising campaign.

The messages including “End Court’s Rort” and “Clean Up the Health System” are targeted political messages that manage to avoid the high costs of advertising space.

Essentially these political messages are graffiti, they’re illegal and generally considered an eyesore on public buildings, but they can also be very powerful.

Professor Leyland Pitt, from the School of Marketing Curtin University, feels these types of guerilla tactics can work for organisations with limited marketing budgets.

“From a marketing point of view this type of marketing can work very well for a group with limited resources,” he said.

“Small radical groups can reach the community through graffiti and it’s a far more effective medium than any traditional advertising they can afford.

“But I also think it has more effect on the enemy - the marketing of the opposing party than on the consumers.”

What these radical marketing tactics can achieve is exposure and publicity which can lead to public discussion.

Every time someone talks about this graffiti in Perth, even if it’s negative, the political message is repeated.

Julian Donaldson, general manager of John Davis Advertising, said there was a risk this type of marketing can fall down simply because people don’t agree with damaging property.

“If you deface property some people look at this as very negative and therefore disagree with the message.”

In the 1970s and 1980s in Perth, a group of pathologists and doctors formed a group called “Buggarup” to protest against cigarette advertising in Perth.

They generated public interest in their plight through specifically targeting nicotine company billboards and defacing them with clear anti-smoking and cancer-awareness messages.

The positioning line “What a Sterling idea” for Sterling cigarettes was defaced to read, “Lung Cancer what a Sterling idea”.

“I don’t believe Buggarup led to the abolition of cigarette advertising in the market, but the ‘talked about’ effect of these messages is a multiplier,” Mr Donaldson said.

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