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Parties splurge to woo voters

THE two major parties will spend an estimated $2.6 million on election advertising campaigns in the lead up to the February 10 State election.

Following the election announcement last week, both the State-based Liberal and Labor parties have launched advertising material in a bid to snare the elusive swinging voters in WA.

In a State election that’s predicted to produce a close result, both parties seem focused on the negative aspects of their opposition rather than any specific policies.

“Throughout the world political campaigns seem to be going this way,” Professor Dick Mizerski, head of department information management and marketing at University of Western Australia, said.

In the publicity stakes, the coalition have generated the most media attention with a billboard featuring a photo of Dr Geoff Gallop and Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union boss Kevin Reynolds and the warning, “Don’t Risk Labor”.

Sydney advertising agency Rhythm and Shoes developed the Labor slogan “WA Deserves Better”.

Rhythm and Shoes director Graham Woodlock has a long association with the Labor Party and has worked on election campaigns in Queensland, the Northern Territory and South Australia.

Mr Woodlock developed the advertising campaign for the State election in NSW won by Labor leader Bob Carr.

“Our brief to Rhythm and Shoes was to sell Dr Gallop, the Labor Party and then a vision,” Labor Party State secretary John Halden said.

In terms of budget, Mr Halden estimated the Liberal Party would spend three times as much money on their campaign as the Labor Party.

“ I think the Liberal Party spent more than our budget last night,” Mr Halden said (tongue-in-cheek) on only the second day of the campaign.

The Liberal Party are working with local advertising agency Bowtell, Clarke and Yole.

“The advertising campaign is developed through research of the electorate’s concerns and perceptions, these executions are then tested and refined in the light of the findings,” BCY director Richard Clarke said..

Part of the Liberal Party’s focus is on the past misdemeanours of the State Labor Party and WA Inc. This is reflected in their slogan, “Don’t Risk Labor”.

Lance McMahon, lecturer school of marketing at Curtin University, said the Liberal Party was relying on scandals from more than eight years ago to undermine the current Labor Party.

“It’s hard for the Coalition to besmirch the Labor government for something that happened eight years ago,” Mr McMahon said.

Very little of the advertising material from both parties seems to focus on positive policies and growth for WA

“When both parties have nothing to offer except criticisms we know we’re in trouble,” Mr McMahon said.

One of the problems with negative advertising is that it’s difficult and expensive to fight.

“The more a party has to explain a criticism, the more they repeat the charge,” Prof. Mizerski said.

The Liberal Party’s hard-hitting billboard in Roe Street has provoked Mr Reynolds to redirect some campaign funds, usually earmarked for the Labor Party, to a $100,000 advertising campaign that will focus on the Court government’s failures.

“We usually make a donation to the Labor Party but this time we have decided to put money directly into a campaign for ourselves,” Mr Reynolds said.

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