Category Archives: Advertising

TSA goons add to the US’ bad name

PUBLIC relations was born in the United States with its father being Edward Bernays, the grandson of Sigmund Freud. As a result the US is extremely good at projecting itself as this, that and the other.

But in recent years, no matter the excellence of the spin, the US is getting a bad name. And one of the agencies responsible for this is the Transport Security Administration.

The TSA was set up in the wake of the attacks on the World Trade Centre on September 11, 2001. Its responsibilities are ostensibly to provide security for airlines and to screen passengers.

It does such a ham-handed job that it is universally hated. But it seems to revel in being disliked and, in fact, often tries to make itself more unpleasant than it needs to.
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Why the ABC has been forced to cut programs

THE Australian Broadcasting Corporation has announced cuts to a number of programs which will result in staff in some centres losing their jobs. Surprisingly, the corporation, a government-funded entity, has cited “falling audiences for some programmes” as one reason why it had to make these cuts.

It tells the tale of the corporation in just those few words. Exactly why a government-funded organisation should be chasing behind ratings is not clear.

But the ABC has become like any other commercial network and wants to ape them. It wants to be in the limelight, not to provide services for the diverse range of people who live in Australia.
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Why do people celebrate a meaningless, pagan festival?

A FEW days back I went by the local shopping centre to drop my daughter off there. This centre was rebuilt and reopened a few months ago. It now has an enormous amount of parking space. Yet on this day, every single space was taken.

There’s one reason for this: Christmas.

In the run-up to Christmas, people seem to go crazy. They run to every possible shopping outlet and buy all sorts of junk, supposedly as gifts for others. Old people, middle-aged people, young people and children, they all come out and indulge in this orgy of buying.

And it all has to be done before Christmas.

On Christmas Day itself, people eat enough to make themselves sick. The holiday is used as a way for people to get together – this can be a nice thing if you have friends and family in the place you live. But to use it as an excuse for over-consumption just doesn’t wash.

Four years ago, I began to question the meaning of all that was being done at Christmas time. I’ve known for a long time that Christmas has nothing to do with the birth of Jesus Christ and everything to do with paganism. But I just went along – the children wanted gifts, everybody else wanted to indulge themselves and I joined in without too much of a murmur.

The family had a chat and decided that we would do without all the falsehood and unnecessary stress and strain – not to mention the waste of money. It was difficult for everyone to adjust the first year. The second year it got easier and this year nobody even talked about Christmas. It is just another day and that’s the way it should be.

The children want gifts at the end of the year so they get something but it is done well before December 25. I work every Christmas Day to emphasise the fact that it is an ordinary day – fortunately, I work in an industry where some people have to work every day of the year.

The churches would do well to abandon celebrations on this day for the only individual who is cited in the Bible as celebrating a birthday was Herod, a pagan if ever there was one. And for those who continue to believe that this day, December 25, has anything to do with the birth of Jesus, it is time to realise that nowhere in the Bible is one asked to celebrate the birthday of the book’s central figure.

As with many other things, people just go along with celebrating Christmas and do not stop to question. It is high time that this meaningless ritual was given the push. Let’s have a shopping festival instead – for that is exactly what Christmas is all about.

When will advertising come to our ABC?

Everyone in China bribes everyone all the time – presenter Jon Faine on the ABC 774 morning show

The ABC does not do advertising. The ABC does promotions. – Unknown presenter on ABC drive program

THE Australian Broadcasting Corporation is a sacrosanct institution in Australia. Both its employees and the public – who, by estimates, contribute eight cents per head to keep it alive – have a sense of ownership about the corporation.

Given recent trends, the ABC, a service funded by taxes, seems to be gearing up for advertising – even though it would take an act of parliament for it to be able to go ahead. The statements above are just two of many reasons why I think this is on the corporation’s radar.

The first statement is that of a shock jock, a statement designed to tickle the latent feelings against foreigners resident in the underbelly of Australian society. People like Sydney shock-jock Alan Jones use such devices to increase audience share. Nobody else could characterise China, a society of 1.2 billion people, in such a careless manner.

It is also an indication that the ABC has sunk so low that statements like this go unnoticed.

But why should the ABC be bothered about ratings? After all, the public picks up the tab. There is one possible reason: the only TV or radio station that is bothered about ratings is the one that’s looking to attract advertising.

The second statement is pure spin. It seeks to mask the fact that, from dawn to dusk, the ABC has a constant stream of advertising. The ad slots are so numerous that at times, on TV at least, programs begin as much as five minutes behind schedule.

In one way, this saves ABC presenters quite a bit of work. On a given day, there are any number of radio and TV programs which need to be plugged. On Thursday mornings, for example, there is a plug for Insiders, a political talkfest on TV on Sunday.

Never mind if some other political commentator can provide more incisive or erudite commentary, given that Barrie Cassidy presents Insiders, of necessity one has to listen to him.

On Wednesdays earlier this year, one had to endure an interview with someone from the Chaser team – the plug was mandatory as the Chaser team had a TV program on ABC the same night.

The ABC’s ads about its own services apart, there is a constant stream of media releases from the ABC about the same programs sent to other media outlets.

A few months back, when Phillip Adams was interviewing ABC chief executive Mark Scott to mark the latter’s completion of three years in the post, Adams made a telling statement – that there had been little or no controversy during those three years.

Except, of course, the controversy over the Chaser’s now infamous “make a realistic wish foundation” skit.

The fact that Scott’s reign has been free of controversy is again a good omen for advertisers – no advertiser likes controversy of the type the Chaser provides.

Scott’s reaction to the Chaser incident would also have served to reassure any potential advertiser – he doused any possible flame by demoting an executive over what was a perfectly harmless skit. Advertisers love that kind of thing – it means that the man upstairs is sensitive to what causes public controversy and is willing to step in to make the majority happy.

An additional fact to note is that over the last three or four years, there has been a steady change in the type of people who present programs on the ABC; some of the newcomers, like Lindy Burns for example, are so light-headed in their approach as to be silly. But this kind of anodyne, unquestioning approach is precisely what big corporations look for when planning how to spend their media budgets.

For me, what has cemented the conclusion that the appearance of advertising on the ABC is only a matter of time, was the Gruen Transfer on ABC TV. Whether the program was a management idea or came from the head of Wil Andersen is immaterial – it was the ideal vehicle to test how people would react to having what was blatant advertising on the ABC.

No doubt Andersen expected to be able to use his plentiful wit and satire to poke fun at the world of advertising, much in the manner that he did on The Glass House. But he did not factor in the skills of his regular panel members, Russell Howcroft and Todd Sampson, who hijacked the show very cleverly and used it to their own ends.

Though the ABC does try to avoid gratuitously mentioning the names of companies – to the extent that it calls Melbourne’s second football ground Docklands even though the ground’s owners sell naming rights to a different company each year – Howcroft and Sampson managed to get quite a few commercial entities considerable mileage.

The ABC, apparently, was not in any way upset about this, with the only kerfuffle being a ban on showing an ad that it deemed to be too confronting; the ad was available for viewing online. The program did quite well in terms of viewership and that would have been encouraging.

The ABC has a good example in the shape of SBS – the latter has introduced advertising in the same manner that one boils a frog. No doubt the same methods will be resorted to by Aunty a few years down the track.