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27 March 2015

$2M+ of lies to win power


I believe in truth in advertising. So does the commercial TV regulator that demands evidence for any claim you want to make before they give your ad clearance to air. Unfortunately for the voters of NSW, political parties are allowed to say what they want in an ad because they aren't answerable to any of the rules mere brands and businesses have to conform to.

If I made a fraudulent claim for a client in an ad, (for instance the kind of price saving offer mobile phone plans were notorious for before being fined into transparent pricing), the ACCC or ASIC would come after me. This election has seen Labor and unions spend twice the Liberals. Most of that $2,500,000 was on ads that say electricity prices will go up if Baird sells 49% of the poles and wires. It's a lie.

Their ads scream this lie despite ACCC chairman Rod Simms saying this isn't the case. Even the Australian Energy regulator is on record that whoever owns the poles and wires in NSW after the election he will insist they reduce their prices by 20-30% over the next five years. There is no evidence for the claim made in Labor's ads that I believe would have satisfied the broadcast standards that commercial advertisers have to comply with. In fact, there is much historic evidence from previous power privatisations showing prices are lower outside government ownership. This has been acknowledged by such Labor luminaries as Bob Carr, Morris Iemma, Michael Costa and Anna Bligh when they attempted to sell the poles and wires under their governments.

It frustrates me as a professional marketer that in the 21st century political parties of any persuasion can play 1984 mind games with the truth and run them in prime time. The ABC Fact Check merely called Foley's ad pitch "spin". I prefer the robust language of former Labor Energy Minister and ACTU president Martin Ferguson. He says Foley's spin is "rank opportunism and scaremongering... sending a clear message he doesn't care about jobs and energy security."

Politicians' ad claims are officially accountable to... themselves

Here is the law (or lack of) that applies to political advertising as published by adstandards:

"Currently, there is no legal requirement for the content of political advertising to be factually correct. Complainants are advised to raise their concerns with the advertiser directly and/or with their local Member of Parliament."

Maybe we should just ban political advertising, we banned cigarette ads for telling us porkies.

Glenn | Tags: advertising standards Truth in advertising

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