With the num­ber of cam­paign posters reach­ing a crescendo in the build-up to the March 11 elec­tion, an ad­ver­tis­ing ex­pert sheds light on how ef­fec­tive they are.

Albany Extra - - Front Page - Gareth Thomas

There is lit­tle doubt an elec­tion is im­mi­nent when ev­ery spare sec­tion of fence, front lawn and even some ve­hi­cles are em­bla­zoned with the smil­ing faces of po­lit­i­cal can­di­dates vy­ing for your vote.

The type of can­di­date brand­ing that is be­ing seen in elec­torates across the State is a tra­di­tional part of the craft of elec­tion­eer­ing that many in the busi­ness of cam­paign­ing are not ready to give up de­spite there be­ing lit­tle ev­i­dence to sug­gest they are ef­fec­tive, ac­cord­ing to a Mur­doch Univer­sity se­nior lec­turer for pub­lic re­la­tions.

Dr Kate Fitch said there was lit­tle aca­demic re­search to sup­port the use of the types of small-scale sig­nage on streets, cars and front yards, and they only ac­counted for about 1 per cent dif­fer­ence in the to­tal vote. “There was a study in Amer­ica last year that looked into their tra­di­tion of erect­ing lawn signs and they found it had a very min­i­mal ef­fect, per­haps just over 1 per cent,” Dr Fitch said.

“They are quite an old style and in many in­ci­dences they have been over­taken by technology where it can be eas­ier and cheaper to have tar­geted cam­paigns on­line.”

Dr Fitch said this type of sig­nage had a sim­i­lar ef­fect as di­rect mailout and other “low-technology cam­paign meth­ods”.

“In gen­eral at best the re­search sug­gests there’s a very mod­est im­pact on the out­come,” she said.

Af­ter the 2013 State elec­tion the Al­bany Ad­ver­tiser re­ported on mul­ti­ple com­plaints made re­gard­ing the num­ber of signs dur­ing the elec­tion and on polling day with some re­fer­ring to the signs as “visual pol­lu­tion”.

In that re­port Peter Wat­son and Rob­bie Sut­ton, who are both run­ning again, agreed that po­lit­i­cal sig­nage had gone too far.

Yet, it seems there has been lit­tle change in the four years since then.

Dr Fitch said on­line mes­sages and share­able con­tent pro­duced a more ef­fec­tive re­sult for can­di­dates and cam­paign di­rec­tors, es­pe­cially when con­sid­er­ing the cost of print­ing the phys­i­cal sig­nage.

Pic­tures: Lau­rie Ben­son

Ques­tions have been raised about the ef­fec­tive­ness of road­side signs in elec­tion cam­paigns.

Pic­tures: John Dob­son

A lo­cal fights back on North Road.

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