It’s a brave thing to try to reignite the debate about becoming a republic while the country is in the grips of a pandemic. But the Australian Republic Movement believes there’s no time like the present and has launched a campaign for its new proposal for an Australian head of state elected by the people from a shortlist provided by politicians.
To that end it has released two video advertisements – which it intends to air on television after raising money – with the new slogans, “We can take it from here” and “One of us, for us, by us”.
The ads have the jingoistic vibe of the annual Australia Day “We love our lamb” promotion or a Qantas campaign, and were created by agency Brand + Story, which produced Qantas’ lauded “Fly Away” television commercial last year.
However, marketing gurus were less enthused about the republic campaign, predicting it would struggle to attract Australians’ attention in the middle of the COVID-19 crisis and arguing the ads themselves were underwhelming.
Dan Gregory, founder of The Impossible Institute agency, said it was difficult for the campaign to align with our present needs, given all the change already thrust upon us by the pandemic.
“I don’t think it’s terribly persuasive,” he said. “You need to win over the apathetic … which is no small ask. And I just don’t think this campaign quite has the power to influence that cohort.”
Mr Gregory said the ads were clearly designed to engage people with the idea of a republic without trashing the country’s recent history, but the strategy was very obvious.
“In the advertising world, people used to say of clumsy creative, ‘I think your briefs are showing.’ What the phrase meant was that the strategy was so overt that it came across as transparently manipulative. In other words: I can see what you’re trying to do because you lack nuance. I think that’s the case here.”