Here, for your viewing pleasure, political ads
SOMEWHERE in the TV twilight zone between The Inspector Lynley Mysteries and Texas Flip ’Em, we’ve lost the plot. Hardly anybody is just watching television any more.
While “watching” the big screen in the family room, we are now also scanning our small screens – our tablets and smart phones.
And quite a few of us are not just multi-screening, but triple-screening. Yes, that means watching three screens more or less simultaneously.
So, while around 86 per cent of Australians still watch broadcast TV, around 76 per cent of online Australians multi-screen, with an incredible 33 per cent now accessing content on two or more devices – all while watching TV.
The figures – drawn from last year’s Australian MultiScreen Report – are mindboggling. Which is how I almost completely missed the ALP’s first TV attack ad of the phantom election campaign.
While Chip and Joanna were miraculously renovating another dump in Waco, Texas, on the reno show Fixer Upper, I was browsing Twitter, alternating between my iPhone and a creaking iPad 4, and noticed the ad getting a mention on various news feeds.
With the radar now activated, I kept an eye out for it on the big screen. Lo and behold, it soon bobbed up.
A negative election ad on the television set. How quaint. How very ’70s. Slap the peanut paste on the Weet-Bix and grab a glass of Milo, it’s time for F Troop.
The ad was rolled out on what Labor has dubbed Manic Monday; the first of six prom- ised over six Mondays in a row attacking Liberal Leader Steven Marshall. Something to look forward to, if that rings your bells.
It had all the trademark cliches of your bog-standard pol- itical attack ad – ominous music, scary voice-over, slomo shots of Marshall with his head in his hands. Oh, and they switched him into grainy, black and white because that makes everyone look like a bank robber. So funny.
The Liberals have used the same clichéd style in previous ads targeting Premier Jay Weatherill.
What was astounding about the Manic Monday ad, however, was not its content, but who paid for it. The ALP actually paid for it out of their own pockets, rather than dipping into yours, as they have been doing for months now.
All year, the Weatherill Government has been on a taxpayer-funded, party-politi- cal advertising binge, the likes of which we have never seen before in this state.
It has spent millions – nobody knows exactly how many millions – on advertising promoting the new Royal Adelaide Hospital, the jobs ac- celerator grants and Labor’s energy plan.
The latest is a series expounding the merits of public schools, sort of Munno Para Primary meets Dead Poets So- ciety, so warm and fuzzy I initially thought they were flogging infant formula.
When the banks ran fullpage ads in this paper attacking the Government’s stalled state bank tax, the Premier called it a “subversion of democracy”. His ads, however, are just about public information.
For the first time in the lead-up to a state election, all political parties are now operating under a strict, AFL-style cap on campaign spending.
In a trade-off for public funding of their campaigns, from July 1 to polling day on March 17, no party can spend more than $100,000 running in any individual seat, with an overall cap of $4 million on the entire campaign.
One Liberal MP said other states with shorter restriction zones were “laughing their tits off” at SA’s nine-month clampdown which extended beyond advertising to “every cable tie, every corflute”, anything and everything spent running a campaign. It will be fun watching public service bean-counters sort that out.
Much like the supermarket giants, political parties now rely on gold mines of metadata to target individual voters in key seats, on single issues they know may sway that one person’s vote. They tickle that voter directly by email, SMS or their favoured social media platform.
The politicians are a wake up to our little screens, too.
The new campaign spending rules mean a government that runs a taxpayer-funded advertising blitz promoting its policy achievements and plans – on multiple platforms – has an unfair advantage.
If it were an AFL club, it would be accused of rorting the salary cap.
KNIVES ARE OUT: Premier Jay Weatherill and Opposition Leader Steven Marshall take questions at the AMA Political Leaders Breakfast, at The Playford Adelaide hotel, earlier this month.